Fresh trouble brews for Kodagu coffee growers

After rains, coffee planters in Kodagu are gripped by the fear of black rot disease and berry droppings. Spices like black pepper and cardamom produced in the coffee estates have also perished, beside paddy fields being washed away.

The district, which is known for its coffee production worldwide, may have abysmally low coffee and agriculture output this year. The coffee growers, especially small planters, will be hit by the black rot disease, increase in berry droppings and fungal disease to the crop.

Naj Chengappa, a coffee planter, said, “The disease will affect both Arabica and Robusta coffee due to excess rainfall. The most striking symptoms are blackening and rotting of the leaves and tender berries.”

The growers are already worried about falling coffee prices in the past two years. The diseases following the flood will add to their sufferings. Black pepper crop, grown extensively in coffee plantations in the district, also suffers from droppings and fungal diseases. Cardamom is grown in parts of North Kodagu. The crop has suffered heavy damages due to landslides and flood. “Since there is no proper sunlight in Kodagu for almost a month now, this will
cause fungal disease to coffee, black pepper and cardamom grown particularly in the North Kodagu areas like Madikeri, Napoklu, and Somwarpet,” said Naj.

According to Kaibulira Harish Appaiah, president of Kodagu Growers’ Association, the rain this year has caused 60% loss for coffee and pepper crops in the district. “Due to rain-related disease to coffee, 98.5% small growers will be affected. The crop requires at least two years to recover from rain-related diseases.” “The government has to waive the loans of farmers and come out with relief packages to compensate for the crop damages,” he said. According to sources in the Horticulture department, an estimated 47,000 hectares of arecanut plantations have been affected due to heavy rain.  Arecanut is majorly grown in DK, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga. “The rain has caused fungal diseases in arecanut crop, which will affect the output this year,” said Y S Patil, horticulture department commissioner.

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