A carbon-neutral project in Kerala promises to change the lives of Wayanad ryots

Giving fresh hope to coffee growers, the State Industries Department is gearing up to set up a carbon neutral farm project in Wayanad district of Kerala .

The department had assigned the task of executing the project spread across 100 acres of land at Vayarad in the district, to the Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA). A carbon neutral village coffee park would be set up for which the State government had earmarked ₹150 crore for first phase construction works.

The project envisages doubling the income of coffee farmers of Wayanad who are reeling under an agrarian crisis owing to the low price for produce such as coffee, pepper and arecanut, K.A. Santhosh Kumar, MD, KINFRA, told The Hindu.

As many as 1.5 lakh coffee plants would be planted as part of making the region a carbon-neutral zone, Mr. Kumar said. The project would be executed with the technical support of the Coffee Board. Common processing facilities for coffee would also be established. All technical assistance, including for acquiring organic certification and other requirements, would be provided by the KINFRA to farmers, Mr.Kumar said.

Three-pronged strategy

A three-pronged strategy is envisaged, including the setting up the KINFRA coffee park with KIIFB (Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board) funding in the first phase. Coffee plantations would be categorised taking into account aspects such as local agrarian climate. Scientific care would be ensured during the second phase.

Based on this categorisation tag, the products would be taken to local procurement centres.

The responsibility for this would be with agricultural cooperatives and producer companies. Ripened coffee beans would be procured from farmers.

The beans would be procured from the farmers at prices ranging from 25-100% above the market rate. The amounts would then be transferred to the farmers’ accounts.

The value-added coffee powder would be marketed under the brand name of ‘Malabar Coffee.’

The project would be implemented under public-private partnership mode with the State government holding 26% equity and the balance given to coffee growers and farmer-producer companies, he said .

Wayanad in north Kerala grows about 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes of robusta coffee annually, making it a prominent region in the country cultivating this variety. The Coffee Board had recived GI status for Wayanad coffee, along with Baba Budan Giri, Araku Valley, Coorg and Chikmagalur coffee recently, Coffee Board sources said.

‘We are also also planning to set up a similar park in the tea sector and it would be set up at Mananthavady taluk on 200 acres of land,’ Mr. Kumar said. The value-added tea products would be marketed under the brand name of Wayanad Tea, Mr. Kumar added.

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