Santosh Patnaik

It is grown in four mandals, including Araku, on 8,500 hectares

Gems of Araku Festival conducted

Prizes given to three farmers

ARAKU: An international jury comprising six foreigners and an Indian was thrilled by the distinct flavour of organic coffee grown in the Araku valley.

Floored by the rich flavour of the coffee beans, which were branded as Araku Emerald and certified by IMO of Switzerland, the jury came down to the Araku valley to interact with the tribals to have first-hand knowledge.

The Organic Coffee Project is implemented in Araku, Anantagiri, Dumbriguda and Hukumpeta mandals in an area of 8,500 hectares by Small and Marginal Tribal Farmers Mutually Aided Cooperative Society, Integrated Tribal Development Agency, Coffee Board and Naandi Foundation.

The jury comprising Alan Nietlisbach of ED & Man Company, US, Arthur E. Darboven from Germany, George Sabados from Australia, Hidetaka Hayashi, president, Hayashi Coffee Institute, Japan, Paul O’Toole of Bewley’s Ltd, Dublin, Yoshi Kato of Bontain Coffee, Japan and Sunalini N Menon of Coffeelab, Bangalore, were overwhelmed by the unique flavour of Araku coffee.

“The coffee grown at a high altitude of above 3,000 feet in Araku along with wide array of fruits like jackfruits and lemons might have given a rich characteristic to the beans,” Ms. Menon observed.

To pep up the spirit of the illiterate farmers, Naandi Foundation which is marketing Araku Emerald abroad, conducted Gems of Araku Festival at Thuraiguda coffee processing unit near here on Sunday. Of 93 samples, 34 were picked up and sent to Hyderabad where the international jury cupped them for two days. Later 10 of them were short-listed for giving `Coffee Brilliance’ Awards. The samples were earlier sorted, pulped and packed individually for preliminary screening by a national jury at Bangalore.

First, second and third awards carrying cash, medals and citations were respectively presented to Pangi Dombu of Malivalasa, Chadda Kurmanna of Kusumguda and Geddangi Ananda Rao of Doraguda at the festival attended by 3,000 tribals amid loud cheers.

“The festival will be an annual event with improvement in its format year after year as it is being held for tribal coffee growers for the first time in India,” Naandi Foundation CEO Manoj Kumar said.