The fourth among five siblings, Muthu Velayutham is a first generation literate from a farming community in Tamil Nadu. He was involved social change organizations from his earliest years, joining the Young Farmers Association when he was still in grade school. He pursued his education with intensity, concentrating on rural development studies in his college years and earning a master’s degree in social work. Upon graduation, he began his career serving runaway children. He developed a study of their characteristics and origins (as part of his course requirements in social work) and discovered that a great majority of these children came from migrant families. He then began working with nomadic shepherd children, helping communities of migrant workers form self-help groups long before the self-help movement took root in India. His model was replicated by hundreds of community-based organizations in South India. As he grew closer to the rural and migrant families with whom he worked, Muthu Velayutham learned that health services were eating up a massive portion of their economic resources, taking almost 30 percent of community savings. Since government health services hardly reach the rural areas, he began to work with the people who could, partnering with traditional healers and bone setters to coordinate and extend medical services throughout the region.
In 1999, he brought around 8000 medicinal plant gatherers, cultivators, nursery entrepreneurs, processing unit, export houses and traditional healers together as stakeholders and floated a for-profit public limited company Gram Mooligai Co Limited (GMCL) which is currently owning medicine processing unit, honey processing unit and semi-processing unit for value adding and marketing primary producer produces for primary health care. In 2005, he promoted a similar institution among the rain-fed farmers – Aharam Traditional Crop Producer Company Limited with the membership of 29 farmer producer companies. Aharam became a agri-incubation centre with ICRISAT for seed production, processing and input supply.
In 2006, he promoted Adharam Energy Pvt Ltd for promoting smokeless stove, pellets and briquettes were promoted with the support from British Petroleum India Private Limited, and in 2011, he founded Kalasam Sacred Foods for organic cultivation of rain-fed crops with third party certification floated in association with CSR Capital, Denmark. In the same year, he promoted Kalasam Biofuels, a special purpose vehicle for clean and greener energy. In 2012, he promoted Divya Jyoti Hospitality Services for eco-tourism and Corporate immersion programs.
He was instrumental in founding many networks among the practitioners. He founded Medicinal Plants Stakeholder Consortium (MAPSCON) among the producer intermediaries and end-users. Also, he founded Coastal Enterprise Livelihood League (CELL) for coastal ecosystem conservation through enterprise intervention between primary producer and end users. He played a key role in promoting Madurai Green, a movement for greening the Temple City, and Sembatti Hills Initiators of Ecological Development (SHIELD).
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