The people of Valaramkunnu, a village in the Wayanad district of Kerala, make lemongrass oil as a source of income and use firewood as an energy source for the oil distillation process. Trekking long distances into remote fields and forests, villagers collect firewood and grass to burn. After a recent government ban on cutting trees, the villagers ceased producing the lemongrass oil and had to seek revenue through day-labor, which is intermittent and insufficient.
Researchers determined that another, renewable power source could be used to continue their generations-old practice of producing lemongrass oil and they developed an easier, more efficient, process. Over the course of three years, multiple Live-in-Labs® teams developed a solar-powered prototype for the steam-distillation of lemongrass oil.
Through intercultural entrepreneurship, the villagers are self-sufficient with sustainable production. Additionally the quality is improved sustainably produces a high quality essential oil. Scientific and Business researchers contributed and have enabled the villagers to become self-reliant while living and working in their own village. Villagers are no longer reliant on exploitative landowners for their livelihood. This project is still going on, and research is being done to replicate it in other Indian villages which face similar conditions.