Kodagu coffee growers in distress

The withered coffee plants at Kodlipete hobli in Somwarpet taluk.

The coffee growers in Kodagu district had incurred a huge loss after the natural calamity hit the district last August. Now, the drought has worsened the situation. 

Without water, the coffee plants and pepper vines are drying in the estates.

“The cost of production for cultivating Arabica Coffee is high. The increase in the price of fertilisers, insecticides and shortage of labourers have aggravated the problem in the district,” said a grower.

With the coffee growers facing an acute shortage of labourers, many growers have outsourced the entire coffee estate after being unable to manage the situation. Instead of providing short term remedies, the government and Coffee Board needs to chalk out long term programmes to solve the problems faced by the growers, said Somwarpet Taluk Coffee Growers Association president Mohan Bopanna. 

Black pepper is cultivated on 4,500 hectares of land in Somwarpet taluk. The growers have incurred a loss in Somwarpet Kasaba, Shanivarasanthe, Suntikoppa and Kodlipete Hobli.

The pepper vines are affected with disease at Kundalli, Kumaralli, Takeri, Kiragandooru, Tholooru Shettalli, Koothi, Bachalli, Yadooru, Kalkandooru, Hosabeedu villages. 

Further, the slash in the price of pepper too has affected the growers. Pepper that was fetching Rs 600 to Rs 750 per kg two years ago. Now, it only fetches Rs 290 to Rs 300 per kg. The vagaries of nature have affected the pepper vines in the district, thus pushing the growers to distress.

Normally, when the coffee prices crash, the growers depend on the pepper for survival. This year, both the crops have been damaged, said growers. 

Coffee is cultivated on 28,590 hectares in Somwarpet taluk, of which Arabica coffee is cultivated on 22,900 hectares.

Hanagallu village grower Mohan said that at present 50 kg Arabica parchment fetches Rs 7,000. The growers will earn a profit if parchment fetches Rs 10,000. 

MLA Appacchu Ranjan said, “Though the state government has declared Somwarpet taluk as drought hit, it has not given any special projects for the district. No compensation has been disbursed so far. The government which promised Rs 18,000 per hectare compensation has given only Rs 900 to a few farmers. The government has only released Rs 31 crores for the road development works.”

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