Untold story of Araku Organic Coffee
In the present day lifestyle among non-alcoholic beverages only three drinks have become popular in the world countries. Of these three, Tea is in the top position, coffee at the second position while Coco occupies the third place. In terms of exports and imports across the world countries Coffee is a major valuable traded commodity next to petroleum products. Now a days, consumption of coffee turned into a status symbol for a new culture and life style. Coffee undoubtedly attained a status of medicine which strengthens and energizes rather than a regular drink.
Origin of coffee
The native origin of Coffee is in African continent which spread over to other countries. Presently it is cultivated in as many as 70 countries. The Ethiopian ancestors of today’s Oromo ethnic group in kaffa region were the first to have recognized the coffee plant. There, legend says that the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the coffee plant. From Ethiopia coffee subsequently reached Arabia.
Origin in India
In 16th century a holy sufi saint Baba Budan reportedly smuggled “seven coffee seeds”from Arabia and planted in the courtyard of his hermitage in Chikmagalure of Karnataka. From there coffee spread over to other parts and presently 16 varieties of coffee is grown in India.
Introduction of coffee in Andhra Pradesh
Coffee was first introduced in Andhra Pradesh in 1898 by Mr. Brodi, a Brtisher in Pamuleru valley in East Godavari district. Subsequently it spread over to Pullangi (East Godavari district) and Gudem (Visakhapatnam district) agency tracks. In 1920s even though it spread over to Ananthagiri in Araku valley and Chintapalli areas, coffee cultivation remained dormant for a long time.
Expansion of Araku Coffee
In 1960s, the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department developed coffee plantations in 10100 acres in Reserve forest areas. These plantations were handed over to the A.P. Forest Development Corporation in the year 1985. In the year 1956 after the formation of Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC), the Coffee Board identified GCC for promoting coffee plantations. Since then GCC started making efforts to develop coffee plantation through local tribal famers. A separate coffee wing was carved out in GCC and promoting coffee in around 4000 hectares taken up. Thus, the coffee grown in Araku valley by the tribal farmers under organic practices attained recognition as “Araku coffee”.
After 1985, GCC promoted another organization by name “Girijan Coop. Plantation Development Corporation” (GCPDC) exclusively to develop coffee plantations in tribal areas. All the plantations developed by GCC and GCPDC were handed over to the tribal farmers @ 2 acres to each family.
In July, 1997 the employees working in GCPDC were deployed to ITDA and coffee expansion was taken up under Five year Plan and MGNREGS. Thus presently the coffee cultivation reached 1 lakh acres and maintained by the tribal farmers.
Specialties of Araku coffee
In India, while coffee plantations were well developed over the last century in Western ghats, expansion of coffee in Eastern ghats is still to develop. In the Eastern ghats, Araku Valley is not only a beautiful place but also the home for colourful birds and parrots. The Arabica coffee grown in this region is recognized as unique. Coffee is grown under organic practices under shades of Mango, Jackfruit, Banana and silver oak trees. It also helps in environmental conservation and ecological balances. Around 1 lakh tribal families living in this region are getting financially stabilized through coffee cultivation. The more welcoming development is that the tribal famers have given up their traditional “Podu” cultivation and now switched over to coffee cultivation on a large scale. It is not an exaggeration to say that in Araku region, the coffee cultivation is not only helping conservation of forest and ecological balances but also as a viable high economic pursuit to the tribal farmers.
Unique quality of Araku Coffee
The coffee cultivated in this region at an altitude of 900 to 1100 m MSL is having unique qualities due to medium acidity in soil. The taste of this coffee leaves an intense citrus flavour and aroma with medium acidity on the tongue due to rich soil properties and texture and size of the beans. With these qualities, Araku coffee has won the global recognition as a unique speciality coffee.
Araku coffee in world market
The tribal farmers of Araku valley are now unknowingly creating a silent revolution in the history. Araku coffee is the first ever “Girijan Coffee Brand” not only in Andhra Pradesh and India but also in the entire world. It is the first of kind in the human history involving more than one lakh tribal farmers joining hands in organic cultivation of this coffee and reaching out its taste to the consumers across the world. As such Araku coffee has become a milestone not merely in the history of Andhra Pradesh and India but also in the entire world history. This is the reason Araku coffee becoming favourite across the world countries.
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Role of GCC in Araku coffee
The growth and glory of Araku Coffee started improving along with GCC after its formation in 1956. Both are improving simultaneously.
During the year 2015-16 GCC collected 1400 M.Ts of coffee, marketed the same through auctions in a most transparent manner and provided international market rates to the tribal famers. Relieving tribal farmers from the clutches of exploitative middlemen is a major achievement. The Hon’ble Chief Minister Sri N. Chandra babu naidu garu playing active role as “Brand Ambassador” helped in building brand image for Araku coffee in the International market.
Future of Araku coffee
In the coming days Araku coffee undoubtedly would stand for the rich culture and heritage of the tribals of the state. It is sure that this coffee would become another gift article like Lepakshi handicrafts, Bobbili Veena, Yetikoppaka bommalu for Andhra people.
It may not be an exaggeration to say that in near future there may be Andhra people without eating “Avakaya” but not drinking Araku Coffee. It may not take much time to say that Araku coffee is a special gift of Andhra to the World.
– A.S.P.S. Ravi Prakash, (firstname.lastname@example.org, Call-9490517777)
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