When someone says coffee from Karnataka, three names immediately come to mind: Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, and Sakleshpur in Hassan district. But something new is brewing in an unexpected corner of the State: farmers in North Karnataka are now trying to grow coffee and if proven to be of good quality, it will be a game changer for the region.
Gaddi Guddappa, a farmer from Huvina Hadagali in the Vijayanagar district, has cultivated coffee on eight acres of land successfully. Mr. Guddappa told The Hindu, “I bought the plants from Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga four years back and this year, I have got the yield of 1,600 kg of coffee from my eight acres of plantation.”
According to him, the coffee which he had grown is the first in the district and also in the North Karnataka region. Many farmers in his district are visiting his plantation every day to learn about and see the coffee beans grown. “For me, it was a very new crop and I didn’t know the outcome of it. I learnt how to grow coffee by visiting Chikkamagaluru. Many people from my area who were working in the coffee estates there had told me about it. I bought Arabica-Chandragiri variety coffee from Shivamogga nursery and started to grow it,” Mr. Guddappa added.
Initially, Mr. Guddappa was growing arecanut on his land. He then started to grow coffee in the middle of the arecanut farm, as traditionally, all coffee is shade grown. He is using arecanut palms and a few other kinds of trees as shade for coffee plants while growing pepper as intercrop. “I am the first person to cultivate coffee in this region. This year, a few farmers in Lingsugur in Raichur district and Bagalkot district have also started growing coffee,” he said.
Coffee Board testing it
Coffee Board officials recently visited Huvina Hadagali and collected samples of the coffee for quality testing. K.G. Jagadeesha, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary of the Coffee Board, told The Hindu, “Since we got the information that coffee is grown there, our officials have visited the village and taken samples. Only after proper analysis of the coffee yield and quality will we be able to comment. Testing is going on and it will take time to give our scientific analysis of the crop.”
According to Mr. Jagadeesha, coffee plants can be grown anywhere. However, the quality has to be met to the proper standard for the coffee to be marketable and drinkable. “We don’t want to recommend anything based on physical observation. We want to go by extensive testing of the coffee beans. As a responsible agency, we have to see everything, including long-term sustainability, but we are exploring,” he added.