MADIKERI: There is a sweet fragrance persistent across the estates of Kodagu, and it is emerging from the blossomed coffee plants. While the fragrance and the sight of the blossoms is soothing to onlookers, it is a sign of worry to the coffee growers. Many growers across the district have been forced to stop coffee-picking work as the plants have bloomed over two months prior to the blossoming season.
“Nearly 70 per cent of the ripened coffee beans have been picked across my estate. However, we have now stopped the picking work as all the plants are blooming with next year’s crop. We have to wait at least a month till we restart the cherry-picking work as the blossoms will take nearly a month to set in the plants,” explained Harish Madappa, a grower from South Kodagu. He recalled his early days as a grower and explained that coffee has been severely affected by the changing weather conditions.
The coffee-picking season normally started in January and ended before March. However, cyclonic rains in November advanced the coffee-ripening process and the coffee-picking began in December. Now again, the sudden showers during the last week have resulted in the blossoming of the coffee plants. “Earlier, after the harvest work on farmlands, we began coffee-picking work. Now, hardly any farmer practises paddy cultivation in the farms due to loss.
Further, after the coffee-picking by March, we carried out sprinkler irrigation across the estates to prepare the plants for the blossoming process for next year’s crop. However, the change in climate has affected the entire work process in the estates,” he explained.
According to him, 95 per cent of the growers have witnessed a downfall in the yield this year. “I have faced 35 per cent less yield than last year,” he confirmed. With the crops blooming early this season, next year’s yield will also suffer as these blossoms might not survive the pre-monsoon showers and the upcoming monsoons. While several growers have received a maximum of Rs 28,000 compensation under the NDRF and SDRF scheme, they demand a revision in the compensation amount as the released fund will not help them sustain the increased losses faced by them.