The traditional coffee farmers of Anchunad at Marayur in Idukki are reaping the benefits of organic farming, with a kg of berry (coffee fruit) fetching over ₹50 this year.
Tribespeople and other farmers traditionally follow organic coffee farming in the Anchunad valley. Coffee is mainly cultivated at Kanthalloor, Keezhanthoor, Kulachivayal, and Vettukad and marketed as Keezhanthoor coffee.
Kumaravel, a farmer who owns two acres of coffee at Keezhanthoor, says there are around 200 traditional coffee farmers at Keezhanthoor. Keezhanthoor coffee, an Arabica variety, is famous for its taste and aroma. This year, farmers received better income from coffee, he says.
“The Manarcadu Social Service Society and other vendors are ready to buy coffee fruit. Last year, the price of coffee fruit was ₹25 to ₹35 a kg and this year farmers got ₹50 for a kg,” says Mr. Kumaravel.
The Manarcadu Social Service Society, a group based in Kottayam, largely procures coffee beans from farmers for export. Its chief executive officer Sreekumar M.S. says this year the society procured around 50 tonnes of coffee from Keezhanthoor.
“Farmers do not use pesticides and chemicals for coffee farming. The collected coffee berry is processed and exported to the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany besides other nations. This year, we paid a maximum of ₹50 for a kg of beans to farmers,” says Mr. Sreekumar.
“A farmers’ society under us is functioning at Keezhanthoor for ensuring organic farming and procuring beans. We are trying to develop Keezhanthoor coffee as a special brand,” he says.
Divisional Forest Officer of the Marayur Sandalwood Division M.G. Vinodkumar says every week around 2,000 kg of coffee fruit arrive at the Chilla tribal produce market. “This year, farmers received an average of ₹50 to ₹56 a kg. The whole fruit is sold and vendors specially process the beans and export the product,” he says.
“Traditional organic farming is the speciality of the coffee,” says Mr. Vinodkumar.
Chilla, an exclusive tribal market under the Marayur forest division, is open on Thursdays to sell produce cultivated by the tribespeople. The initiative was started in 2014.