Organic coffee a unique success story

by Uma Sudhir, AP/NDTV.com

Friday, March 30, 2007 (Araku Valley)

Tribal women from remote hills of Andhra Pradesh have wowed the world not with their dance or striking nose-rings but with their coffee.

For instance, Gemmile Tikku, a widow from Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam district, has won national and international recognition for growing one of the best flavours of organic coffee.

However, for them to take the international market by storm, these women will need adequate support.

Coffee grower Appa Rao informs that with NGO help for better farm practices and marketing, he grows coffee that fetches him a better price and his income has more than doubled in the last couple of years.

“I used to get Rs 35-40, now I get above Rs 80-100,” said Appa Rao, Coffee grower.

Brown revolution

Some 60,000 tribal families are part of this brown revolution.

They grow up to 4000 tonnes of organic coffee that has a premium niche market in the developed world.

In fact, this invigorating story has had such an impact that it drew the Union Commerce Minister to Gemmile Tikku’s doorstep.

“One acre of coffee can fetch up to Rs 13,000 an year. From 75000 acres to 1.5 lakh acres, we plan to double area under coffee here in the next five years,” said Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of State, Commerce.

Spicing this steamy success is black pepper that is grown as a creeper along with coffee and is adding to the income.

The next step is organic certification and standardization of the coffee so that the Araku Valley organic coffee can emerge as a strong international brand.