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Wayanad Social Service Society
Bishop Mar Jose Porunnedam

An Undertaking of the Catholic Diocese of Mananthavady

Wayanad Social Service Society (WSSS) is a registered charitable society Registered under Charitable Societies Registration Act of 1860 and a secular voluntary organization established in the year 1974. It is the official social work organization of the Catholic Diocese of Mananthavady. WSSS aims at Socio-economic empowerment of the target group consisting of Tribals, Women, Youth, Children and Small & Marginal farmers through participatory development interventions

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The Society has its Vision stated   as “Self reliant and vibrant human communities living in a sustainable environment cherishing human values of love, justice, solidarity and human dignity as well as their equity in the social capital ascertained.

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Organising and empowering the target groups consisting of small and marginal farmers, women, tribes, youth and children in the target area through participatory process of development

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·To  ensure  and  support  community  based  people’s organisations for development interventions.

·To build self-reliance among the people by mobilizing resources,  capacity  building,  creating  employment opportunities, increasing assets and ensuring economic security.

· To assure social justice to the less fortunate members of the society who have been denied the same.

·To organise education and action research programmes.

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The Wayanad Social Service Society was registered as a non- governmental organization in the year 1974 under charitable society’s registration act of 1860 with the Bishop of Mananthavady diocese as trustee, the late Dr.V.K.G Nambiar as the President and other prominent citizens of different religious affiliations as members. This organization of a secular nature was set up with the objective of starting development activities in the district of Wayanad, Malappuram and Kannur in Kerala State and taluk of Gudallur in Tamil Nadu. The Society passed through its infant stages with the usual teething troubles till the end of 1977 (beginning of 1978) which was turning point in the history of the Society.

The starvation deaths reported in the tribal areas of Wayanad became the focus of attention of Wayanad Social Service Society from that point onwards by creating special department of tribal

 welfare. During the period 1974 to 1978, micro-projects like drinking water, nursery schools, Mother and Child Health programmes, family sponsorship and plant nursery programs were started.

In the year 1978, a comprehensive socio-economic survey of the North Wayanad region (being considered most backward) was conducted with the financial assistance of MISEREOR and the professional collaboration of ISI Extension Service Bangalore. In the light of the findings of the survey, a five-year package of development program was formulated and submitted to MISEREOR, who sanctioned it in stages. This period could be considered as a high water mark in the history of Wayanad Social Service Society, during which burning issues like human rights, mobilization of tribals, Non Formal Education programme, unionization of tea estate workers, conscientisation and awareness building among the oppressed and deprived sections of society like tribals and women, and struggles like the Gudallur anti-eviction action were taken up actively.

This was followed by two years of transition. Intensive introspection about the impact of the past activities led to a shift in the emphasis. New initiatives were necessitated by the compulsions of circumstances and new types of interventions were called for in order to meet the emerging situation. Organisation of the marginal and small farmers became an unavoidable necessity. This was because it was realized more and more that the genuine development of the people of Wayanad, whose vast majority belong to the agricultural community, can be attained only through the betterment of the socio-economic status of the farmers.

The priority thus given for agricultural development is a re- dedication to the vision of the founding fathers of development work in Wayanad and a step towards realization of migrants to Malabar from other parts of Kerala in the first quarter of the century. Along with agricultural development, WSSS initiated adult education programmes in tribal colonies. Night classes were conducted with

 the support of local leaders to make the tribal capable of reading, writing and doing basic arithmetic.

The year 1985 was another turning point in the history of WSSS. The parish level local units - Social Welfare Societies (SWS) constituted of different programme partner groups were accepted as the primary agents and authentic planning subjects of the society. Awareness generation programmes on social as well as health issues like HIV/AIDS, Alcoholism and Drug addiction etc. got high priority since its inception. Agricultural development through organic farming, natural resource management, watershed development and management, value added processing and marketing of agro products are visualized and materialized through peoples organisations. 1985 onwards rural and alternative technology development, women’s development and integration in to the mainstream with equity was held in due importance with their organization as Self Help Groups (SHG) effectively participating in rural micro credit dynamics and micro enterprises/income generation activities. Health also remains one of the main concerns of WSSS having revived and promoted a unique indigenous health management system sustained throughNatural and participatory process.

The economy of the region as well as the livelihood of the population stand threatened owing to diminishing returns from agriculture. Taking 1990 as the base year, agricultural output has

been decreased by 60% as of now and productivity by 30%. It is from

1980’s onwards that the farming sector in Wayanad has come under

the grip of inordinate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The fast gains during the early periods by way of enhanced outputs turned the farmers greedy and rather crazy after chemical inputs being totally unaware of the inherent danger in the form of soil degradation to the extent of the farm land becoming unproductive. The period under review witnessed a thorough shift from organic farming to chemical fertilizer applied cultivation at the undue influence of fertilizer companies and their agents. It is not too late for the farming community to go back to organic farming and steps have been already initiated to mobilize the farmers and equip them scientifically in

organic agriculture.

 In this respect, the Wayanad Social Service Society could rightfully stake claim as the pioneering organization in promoting and propagating organic cultivation closely collaborating with the programs of the Government and other national agencies like Spices Board, NABARD and State Horticulture Mission.

In the year 2000 WSSS was selected by Spices Board as an implementing agency for the promotion of organic spices cultivation, a project funded by International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva among Small & marginal farmers in Wayanad. Three clusters having five small farmers groups from Marakav, Edayoorkunnu and Kammana villages having total 106 small land holders were started organic certification process under an Internal Control System (ICS) and further National Centre for Organic Farming (NCOF) given a Service Provider status for the promotion of organic farming for 1500 farmers in Wayanad since 2003. Moreover State Horticulture Mission (SHM) department also provided support for the promotion of organic farming by availing subsidy for farm inputs and organic certification programme in Wayanad. WSSS is the only accredited agency who has the status of service provider for organic farming under National Centre for Organic Farming (NCOF) Govt. of India in Wayanad district. WSSS has its own Processing centre, well equipped unit established with machineries for processing the organic products. WSSS assures Domestic and international marketing services to ensure premium price for the organic products and this approach attracted hundreds of farmers to opt for organic farming practices.

Another important milestone during this decade was the establishment of Community Radio Station. Government of India declared the national policy of Community Radio in December 2006. Thereafter in March 2007 WSSS submitted the formal application for obtaining a license. It took almost two years for the processing of the application and the grant of permission agreement was signed on June 1st , 2009 and on the same day radio Mattoli went on air. Starting with four hours of daily broadcast in 2009, today we are on the air for 17 hours, starting from 6.00am. Radio Mattoli produces some of its programmes   with financial assistance from Govt.

departments/institutions/ organisations etc.

In 2010 WSSS launched Watershed Programs and Tribal Development programs with the support of NABARD. In 2011 WSSS initiated to develop an Agro Processing Centre name Biowin with the support of NABARD, KINFRA and Coffee Board. Kerala Sujitwa mission selected WSSS as their Service Provider in the year 2013 and NABARD selected WSSS as the Anger NGO for implementing the Women SHG Program in the District. WSSS started Jalanidhi Project in Edavaka Grama Panchayth during this period with the support of World Bank. In 2013 WSSS got Excellence Award from Kerala Social Service Forum also in the same year State Industries Department selected WSSS as the best Entrepreneur in the District. In 2014 WSSS selected as State Nodal Agency for Vikaspedia, a multilingual knowledge portal run by Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Govt. of India.

Wayanad Social Service Society, with the status of an NGO and Voluntary Organisation has been pioneers in many fronts with a history of more than three and a half decades to its credit. Its strength has always been in innovations, introduction and familiarization of new and relevant concepts, models, technologies and its replications and in being a fore runner in sustainable initiatives in development. Over the years and with the changing times, it has taken different roles of benefactor, catalyst, service provider, animator, facilitator, activist and so on. WSSS has still many more roles to play for the

people and for the country under the banner of an NGO.