Kodagu oranges: In the shadows of coffee plantations

Much as the Nanjanagud rasabale (banana) is popular, so is Kodagu’s orange.  The horticultural department, however, is distributing free Nagpur orange saplings to farmers of the district. This has sparked off a lot of debate among farmers here.

Where are the oranges?
Kodagu’s farmers were known to grow oranges in the coffee plantations. Today, the situation has changed drastically. Kodagu oranges are hard to come by. The other reason is that most of the orange plantations here are pest-ridden. Farmers who would get a yield of tens of truckloads of oranges today get a meagre four truckloads of oranges.

Orange farms have vanished in small holdings. Today, Kodagu oranges are smaller, less tasty and their colour seems to have changed too.
The Kodagu orange is now being grown in Tamil Nadu and Kerala too. The oranges have a huge demand in the markets there, especially between the months of November and February.

In Kodagu, though, coffee is always the first preference for farmers. Oranges are the lesser crop here. According to agricultural scientists from the Chettaiah horticultural centre, the graining pest is the principal reason for the loss of orange crops.

“There was a time when we grew Kodagu oranges on an eight-ten acre farm and sell at least 40 to 50 tonnes of oranges. The plants grown over the last few years, however, fetch fruit only for three-four years, “ explains Napoklu’s orange farmer, Biddetanda Dinesh.

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