Koraput (Odisha) [India], June 17 (ANI): Coffee plantation is transforming the lives of the tribal population of the Koraput district of Odisha, which is considered one of the most backward regions in India.
Though tribes in Koraput had grown coffee earlier, it was in fits and starts. After the formation of Coffee Development Trust, tribals are being motivated to grow it on their forest land, or on fallow land near their villages by the advice of the district administration.
"When we think of coffee, we think of Nescafe, Brew. But the good news is that coffee is now being cultivated in the Koraput district of Odisha. The taste and qualities of this coffee are so good that they can be compared with the coffee of Colombia and Brazil. The fame of this coffee has spread all over India, even buyers from abroad are coming to buy coffee," said Pritidhara Samal, a coffee farmer.
She further said that it would be better if the government promotes coffee processing units here.
"The environment is also being protected due to Koraput coffee plantation and tourism is also developing," she said.
Samal further the government to take to carry forward coffee plantation in the district, to provide them with a processing unit and provide a selling market.
Overall, Koraput now boasts of over 5,000 hectares of coffee plantation, of which 2,072 hectares are grown by around 2,000 tribal farmers, district officials said. In 2011, only 400 tribals grew the crop in around 400 hectares in the district.
Gadadhar Parida, former District Magistrate of Koraput said, "The present Koraput district is the part of the Jeypore zamindari. Jeypore Maharaja in the 1930s began the plantation of sandalwood plants on a large scale and has also introduced coffee plantations in the district. In the 1960s as a part of 'podu prevention scheme', the district admiration of Koraput took up a large scale of a coffee plantation in the barren hills adjoining Koraput."
"I became Koraput DM in 2008 and again in 2009. I had encouraged to go for large-scale coffee plantations along with black pepper plantations. So that the black pepper can be grown with the said plants almost with no extra cost and that will an additional income for coffee planters," he added.
He further said that he suggested the farmers form a Coffee Association and provided them with a building for their office.
"I also encouraged coffee planters to form one association in the name of Coffee Grows Association and I also allocated them a building so that they can have their office there," he added.
Koraput, which is located in the Eastern Ghats at a height of 3,000 feet above sea level, is ideal for coffee cultivation due to its cool climate and rainfall. Koraput coffee is a unique blend, consisting of 100 per cent Arabica coffee.
As opposed to the Robusta variety of the beverage which is acidic, Arabica coffee, grown in the shade of trees, has a host of salutary benefits, inducing people to switch to the latter. The coffee raised in Koraput is also of export quality.
Coffee plantation was first introduced in Koraput by the erstwhile Maharaja of Jeypore, Rajbahadur Rama Chandra Deo, in the 1930s. However, after the abolition of the zamindari system in 1951, the State soil conservation department undertook coffee plantations to prevent siltation in the Machkund basin in 1958.
Now, coffee cultivation, with the support of the Odisha government and the Coffee Board of India under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has brought smiles to the faces of the tribal people of the district with the organic Koraput coffee emerging as a brand name. It is mostly cultivated by tribals in the district.
According to official sources, coffee cultivation has taken up over 2000 hectares of land in eight blocks of Koraput district and about 1100 metric tonnes (MT) of coffee has been produced in the last crop season (2020-21). The tribal population in Semiliguda, Dasmantpur, Laxmipur, Lamtaput, Nandapur, Koraput, Baipariguda and Pottangi blocks is engaged in the coffee farming.
The state government had provided forest land rights of 46,000 acres to 30,000 families till June 2021. Many of the tribal families are using the FRA lands for cultivating coffee.
The government through its Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation of Odisha Ltd (TDCCOL) and Koraput Agro Products Producer Company Limited (KAPPCO), a producer company of the Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society, is providing support to the coffee farmers, an official said. (ANI)