Northern Tourism is getting ready to combat plastic pollution in hotel amenities….

65  Palmyra  Handicraft  women  in  Vavuniya  and  Mannar  Districts  empowered with 10 days capacity building programme….

As a part of Northern Tourism efforts in creating a sustainable community-based tourism value  chain,  a  project  was  conducted  with  selected  04  Palmyra  Handicraft  making societies in Vavuniya and Mannar Districts to introduce a new product line required to the hotel rooms and restaurants. Plastic consumption in hotels is synonymous with daily life whereas hotel alone use number of amenities such as amenity trays, dustbins, towel trays…. etc. Not only in the hotels, but plastic consumption is also a pervasive reality at all levels in the tourism value chain.

Aligning with the United Nations sustainable development goals as well as the prevailing initiatives  taken  by  the  Government  of  Sri  Lanka  regarding  the  reduction  of  plastic wastage, a systematic process of capacity building programme was conducted by EFECS Project during the month of July 2021 for potential palmyra making women to line up with  a  sustainable  solution  through  palmyra  in  collaboration  with  Northern  Province Tourism Bureau and Palmyra Development Board.

The  pilot project  was  focussed  on  identified  02  Cooperative  Societies  and  02  Women Societies   in   Mannar   and   Vavuniya.   Nannatan-Musali   Palm   Coconut   Resource Development  Co-Op  Society  and  Natura  Palmyra  Handicraft  Development  Society  in Mannar district, Nedunkeni Palm Resource Development Coop Society and Aatral Arasi Palmyra Handicrafts Women society in Vavuniya District was selected for this pilot.

65   Palmyra   Handicraft   Making   women   participated   to   this   continuous   learning programme  to  improve  their  managerial  as  well  as  the  technical  capacities.  The programme was initiated through a two-day Business Planning & Accounting Training Programme  conducted  by  the  Consultants  trained  by  SANASA  Campus  in  Northern Province through a ToT Programme. The ideology behind these two days’ workshop was to provide proper guidance in planning a business more sustainable way using the future tourism opportunities. Four societies prepared four comprehensive business plans using the lessons learnt by this programme.

Palmyra Development Board which is established to develop the palmyra industry took the  challenge  of  providing  the  capacities  for  all  four  societies  in  terms  of  colouring, designing,  and  manufacturing  the  items  required  for  a  hotel  room.  Accordingly,  the Palmyra  Development  Board  in  coordination  with  Northern  Province  Tourism  Bureau jointly  conducted  a  08-days  technical  programme  for  all  four  societies  separately. Programme  was  conducted  under  the  supervision  of  Mr.  M.  B.  Loganathan,  General Manager, Palmyra Development Board.

“We  are  really  eager  to  promote  these  Eco-Friendly  palmyra  product  along  with  the hoteliers  and  restaurant  chains.  This  will  definitely  improve  the  cultural  values  of  the Northern  Hotels  as  well  as  a  great  initiative  to  reduce  plastic  waste.  Since  Northern Tourism  is  focussing  on  a  Community  Based  Tourism  Approach,  this  initiative  would assist to empower the rural women scattered around cottage industries” said Mr. Stanley Mascarenhas,  Chairman  Northern  Province  Tourism  Bureau  addressing  a  session  in Nedinkerny.

Connecting the palmyra handicraft industry with tourism value chain is a good initiative whereas the Palmyra Development Board would like to conduct more capacity building trainings  to  further  support  this  important  initiative  said  Mr.  Krishantha  Pathiraja, Chairman of Palmyra Development Board addressing a tourism sector public gathering in District Secretariat, Jaffna.

Palmyra Development Board was established in 1978 as a Statutory Board established according to the amendment act of no.24 of 1975 under coconut development act of the Government  of  Sri  Lanka.  “The  Palmyra  Board  conducts  various  programmes  for  the development of the industry in Sri Lanka. Introducing a Tourism Based Product Line is one of the newest initiatives of the Board which could drive a long way” stated Mr. M. B. Loganathan,  General  Manager,  Palmyra  Development  Board  initiating  the  Vavuniya Training Programme.

Palmyra    Development    Board    used    07    Trainers    for    this    training.    Mr.    K. Gobarakrishnan,Manager (Extension), Mrs. S. Janarthanan, Manager (Development) and Mrs.   T.Bawani   Management   assistant(specially   trained   in   handicraft)   provided   a comprehensive knowledge on Palmyra Handicraft Designing for the Hotel and Restaurant Sectors.  Four  well  trained  instructors  namely  Ms.  M.  Logeswary,  P.  Jeyalaxmy,  T. Rajareka, and I. Uthayathevi conducted the technical training programme in each society.

During the feasibility analysis of this pilot, it was understood that the limited and/or only traditional product range due to lack of innovation and new designs as well as the Poor product quality due to low skills or missing knowledge about tourist expectations have become great barriers for development. Due to the lack of suitable market outlets which are  attractive  for  tourists  in  Northern  Province,  it  was  not  highlighted  among  the travellers. Yet, there are ample opportunities to promote these items by establishing an attractive product counter at the hotels. Connecting with the hoteliers would help to cut the different levels of middlemen and intermediary traders increasing the prices.

Understanding  the  said  challenges,  Palmyra  Development  Board  in  collaboration  with Northern   Province   Tourism   Bureau   produced   a   comprehensive   curriculum   after investigating the hotel requirements. The training provided the knowledge on designing 10 Tourist Hotel Interior Amenities using palmyra and the scientific methods of colouring suitable for Tourist Accommodations. Workshop focussed on the special techniques in Palmyra  Coloration  during  the  technical  programme  and  if focused more  on  most effective  and  efficient  ways  of  Palmyra  Colouring.  The  designed  10  products  were practically  created  by  the  palmyra  handicraft  makers  in  all  four  societies  under  the guidance of instructors.

“Project  is  planning  to  introduce  the  manufactured  products  to  the  hoteliers  and restaurant owners in Northern Province inviting them to convert at least one room into plastic free eco-friendly environment”, said Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer (Tourism) concluding the sessions in Mannar District.

While reducing the plastic usage, this programme would assist these small-scale SMEs to be focussed on an untapped market. The customer focussed product ranges would reduce the  market  returns.  These  kinds  of  innovations  would  lead  this  project  to  be  more focussed on the new markets and create a better brand for sustainability.

Understanding  the  requirement  of  introducing  proper  designs,  Palmyra  Development Board in collaboration with Northern Province Tourism Bureau introduced 10 amenities that can be marketed among the hotels and restaurants.

Brief  knowledge  on  the  purpose  of  having good  designs  to  market  the  products  were delivered  through  a  workshop  on  Palmyra  Handicraft  Designing  for  all  four  identified palmyra  clusters.  Palmyra  Development  Board  developed  the  design  specifications  in more organised manner considering the future programmes.

Palmyra Handicraft Designing Workshop for the Members of Aatral Arasi Women Society held on 19th  July 2021 with the participation of 16 women handicraft makers.

“Every design usually has to satisfy certain goals and constraints expected by the market. Therefore, understanding the correct methods of designing, colouring and manufacturing will  make  your  products  successful”  stated  Mr.  Loganathan  attending  the  inaugural programme in Attral Arasi Handicrafts Women Society.

Mr. Gobala Krishnan, Extension Manager of Palmyra Developemtn Board condusted a detailed presentation about the evolution ot the palmyrah industry in national as well as the international contexts.

The   session   was   addressed   by   Ms.   Gayathri,   Research   Officer   of   the   Pammyra Develoment Board to explain the technical solutions that are required to prevent from fungal attacks and to keep the quality for long.

Same programme on Palmyra Handicraft Designing was conducted on 14th  July 2021 for the   15   members   of   Nanatan-Muslai   Palm   Development   Co-Op   Society   by   Ms. M.Lokeswary.

Mrs. M. Lokeswary conducting the programme….

Mr. K. Hershanth, welcoming the audience……

Another workshop on Palmyra Handicraft Designing was successfully carried out on 14th July 2021 at Puthkamam Natura Palmyra Handicraft Society with the participation of 15 handicrafts makers.

Participants are getting an understanding about the design brochure……

Mrs. L. Jeyaluxmy delivering the contents on Palmyra Handicrafts Designing….

The workshop on Palmyra Handicraft Designing was conducted on 19th  July 2021 to the 20  members  in  the  Nedunkeny  Palm  Development  Cooperative  Society  by  Mrs.  I. Udayadevi.

Colouration  is  one  of  the  key  activities  of  the  process  of  manufactuing  palmyra handicrafts.   Specially   for  the   tourism  industry,   the   colour   combinations   are   very important.  Understanding  this  context,  the  second  workshop  series  conducted  on  the basics of colouration.

Trainers giving the knowledge on proper colouration practices on 20th  and 21st  July 2021 for the members of Aatral Arasi Women Society in Vavuniya.

Participants getting the knowledge on Basics of Coloration on 15th  and 19th  July 2021 at Nanatan-Muslai Palm Development Co-Op Society.

Members were given a proper training on cleaning and tearing off the palmyrah leaf. Then the proper methods of colouring was given. The natual colours using the wood peals and beat roots and Marathodi was given to the members by the trainers.

Members of Puthkamam Natura Palmyra Handicraft Society engaged with the training on Basics of Colouration 15th  and 19th  July 2021.

Women engaged in colour mixing….

The workshop on Basics of Colouration was conducted on 20th  & 21st  July 2021 to the 20 members   in   the   Nedunkeny   Palm   Development   Cooperative   Society   by   Mrs.   I. Udayadevi.

Member clearing the palmyrah leaves for colouring……

Palmyrah Colouring work…….

A women takes the coloured Palmyrah Leaves for drying….

Colouration  workshops  for  Nanatan-Muslai  Palm  Development  Co-Op  Society  were conducted on 19th  and 20th  July 2021. The participants were actively engaged with the process,

After   the   colouration   workshops,   Palmyra   Handicraft   makers   were   given   proper knowledge on manufacturing the planned set of hotel room amenities set which consisted with 10 items namely the palmyra table mats, Dustbin, Cloth Bin, Towel Tray, Amenity Tray, Hat, Bed Slippers, Fruit Basket, Menu Card, and tissue box.

Members of Aatral Arasi Society, Vavuniya engaging with Quality Manufacturing Process from 22nd  – 28th  July 2021

Members creating a Palmyra Cloth Bin and Fruit Basket for a Hotel Room……

Instructor supervising the quality of the work….

Trainer measuring the size of a menu card made by a member….

Members  of  Nanatan-Muslai  Palm  Development  Co-Op  Society  engaged  with  the programme on Quality Manufacturing from 20th  – 26th  July 2021

A member making a palmyra Dust Bin required for a hotel room…

Members engaged with Palmyra works…..

Members were able to create the best quality output from the training….

Puthkamam  Natura  Palmyra  Handicraft  Society  was  also  given  a  six-day  training  on Quality Manufacturing from 20th  – 26th  July 2021

Members engaged in quality manufacturing of palmyra amenities…..

A handicraft worker making a beautiful fruit basket for a hotel room….

Members of the Nedunkeny Palmyra Development Coop Society engaged with a six-day training programme on quality Manufacturing from 22nd  – 28th  July 2021

Members of the Attral Arasi Women Society in Vavuniya with the products……

Members of Puthkamam Natura Palmyra Handicraft Society with the products…..

Members of the Nanatan-Muslai Palm Development Co-Op Society with the products…

Members of Nedunkeny Palmyra Development Coop Society with the products…