As an expression of our concern for the upliftment of the marginalized of Kerala, it was thought that CEx-IIMK should be involved in the developmental research. Wayanad Initiative, a project to design a comprehensive development package for the Adivasi communities of Wayanad district is the first step in this direction. The project began in June 2004. Wayanad district, which contributes significantly to Kerala’s economy, is “least keralite” in terms of its resources and demographic features. Nearly one-third of the area is covered by forest, rich in biodiversity. Wayanad produces 81% coffee, 38% of ginger, 22% of pepper, 16 % of tea and 10% of cardamom produced in Kerala state. It produces nearly 1,50,000 liters of milk per day with high per capita milk production in the State. Despite being rich resources, it remains the district where a large section the 85% of its inhabitants involved with agriculture is indebted. It has the highest rainfall in Kerala, but remains the most drought- affected region of the state.
Its farmers earn better than their counterparts in the State, but nearly one hundred farmers have committed suicide in the last one-year alone, owing to indebtedness. Wayanad is the least populated district of the state, inhabited by 2.47% of Kerala’s total population in Kerala’s 5.5% land. One in every six of 7,86,627 inhabitants of the district are Adivasis, forming 18% of the total population of the district. Data pertaining to the Adivasis of Wayanad gives an impression that the much-acclaimed “Kerala model growth” has not reached the Adivasis of Wayanad, who form one third of the total Adivasi population of the state. A large number of Adivasi children of the district are not in school. Majority of the Adivasis are undernourished. Their members form nearly 100% of the total illiterates of the district. Most of them lack access to modern health facility. Majority of the 26000 Adivasi families in the district are landless. Nearly half of the Adivasi families of Wayanad do not have proper shelter.