Thimme Gowda Estate – coffee plantation thrives with intercrops

Intercrops grown in coffee plantation supports production and revenue

“We grow arecanut, cardamom, banana, pepper, jackfruit and other forest trees in our coffee estate. These intercrops boost the coffee yield and give us an additional income,” says Mr. Venkatesh M. T. He manages family owned Thimme Gowda Estate. Spread in 12 acres the estate has coffee plantation as the main crop while fruits, spices and forest trees are grown as intercrops to support production and earn additional income. It is located at Kanaguppe village, Hassan district, Karnataka.

Arabica and Robusta coffee varieties are cultivated in 6 acre each. “Comparing the two coffee variants I feel Arabica is profitable as we get good yield and selling price is also better than Robusta. The later needs more water and selling price is low. Robusta needs less shade while Arabica needs more of shade,” he says. When asked if Arabica coffee gives higher profits then why not it is grown in entire 12 acre, Mr. Venkatesh replies, “In 12 acre estate, 6 acre is wet land and Arabica doesn’t grow well in wet soil as it gets affected by diseases. On the contrary Robusta can tolerate heavy rains or fewer rains, so I had to plant it in the wetland.”

Venkatesh Pic 1

Due to low yield of coffee Mr. Venkatesh is forced to take up chemical based farming yet in some sections he is practicing organic farming. In case of 100% organic cultivation, “We have to wait for atleast 2-3years for the yield. Unfortunately we do not have much profit in coffee plantation. Intercrop sales supports our income,” he highlights. In organic he uses cattle manure, neem, turmeric and trichoderma. “Chemicals we use are bordeaux mixture (bordo) and opera. To treat gray leaf spot disease that occurs due to high rains in coffee as well as pepper opera chemical is used. Our pepper vines sometimes get affected by wilt disease. We have kept it purely organic farming for banana, arecanut and cardamom,” he adds.

Arabica grows well in shade. “We have planted jackfruit and mango trees to provide required shade to Arabica coffee. On these trees we have supported black pepper as jackfruit and mango trees have more girth. Also jackfruit trees gives good shade as it branches out for coffee and pepper yield is also good as the roots absorbs moisture which is must for it. Pepper climber are planted atleast 0.5 – 0.45 feet away from these trees. Pepper climber has to be changed after 10-15years. With the help of ladder we pluck pepper,” he shares. Pepper can also be grown on teak trees but the later are more suitable for hot climate and dry land farming. If grown with teak pepper would need additional water in case rains are less than 70 inch. If the rain is above 70 inch then there is no need of water.

Venkatesh Pic 2

Jackfruit trees complement pepper and coffee very well because it absorb all the rain water and keeps the soil moist and so are fig trees. Both trees enhance the yield too. However any sort of wood trees must not be preferred, “These days farmers have started to replace fruit trees with oak trees for higher income but silver oak is not so good for coffee,” he avers.

Pepper variety grown in the estate is Paniyur 1,2. “We have 3,000 pepper climbers. We are getting good yield from 1000 climbers. Other 2000 are still young. It would start yielding at the age of 3 years and the production would increase after 6-7years. On an average, yield of pepper is 4kgs/climber,” says Mr. Venkatesh.

Venkatesh Pic 3

Root rot disease that attack pepper vines is not seen much in the estate. If it spreads then it spoils 10-20 pepper climbers every year. “As a preventive measure I feed 2-3 litre bordo mixture to the roots of pepper climbers. Besides to avoid rot disease we develop the climbers within our farm instead of buying from other nursery,” Mr. Venkatesh states.

600 plants of cardamom are grown as intercrop with Robusta coffee. “When my father was looking after the estate we had 5-6 cardamom plants. Now I have developed saplings from these old plants. It is growing and yielding very well. I sell entire cardamom produce easily,” he states. Putta and Robusta variety banana is also grown alongside coffee. “There are 600 banana plants in the estate.”
Banana is sold in local wholesale market. “Also when price is high people come and buy from the farm gate. Coffee and pepper is bought from our house by traders,” he shares. Last year Arabica coffee was sold at Rs. 9700/50kg bag and Rs. 3800/50kg bag for Robusta. Pepper was sold at Rs. 580/kg, cardamom at Rs. 1400/kg (yield was 200kgs), Putta banana at Rs. 35/kg (yield is 5-6kgs/plant), Robusta at Rs.4/kg (yield is 30-40kg/plant).

Venkatesh Pic 4

Selling is not a problem because quality of all the produces is superior, “Yet farming is challenging because of extreme price fluctuations. Nonetheless inspite of any challenge or problem I will always continue my agriculture operations because the entire process of crop cultivation is mesmerizing and it is my passion!” signs off Mr. Venkatesh.

Contact Details:
Thimme Gowda Estate
Mr. Venkatesh M. T
S/o Thimme Gowda, Kanaguppe Village, Anughatta PO, Arehallihobli, BelurTaluk, Hassan District, Karnataka – 573101
Phone: +91 9482445150

 

Loyola Estate

Family run estate known for its’ fine cup of coffee

“The exquisite taste of our coffee beans are recognized as ‘Flavour of India – The Fine Cup’,” shares Mr. Peter Naresh with pride. He looks after the family owned and managed Loyola Estate. “We grow coffee in 50% shade to make sure our quality is maintained in the cup and plant health is top priority. Indian coffee plantation are mainly acknowledged worldwide as agro’ forest system that is coffee grown under shade. This is the main reason Indian coffee fetches premium price when compared to other coffee growing countries where it is grown in open cultivation.”
Mr. Peter Naresh
Loyola Estate is located in the lower Pulney hills, Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu. It spreads over an area of 150 acres having rich cultivation of coffee, cardamom, banana and pepper. The estate also has ‘The Joseph Coffee Curing Works’ to process the coffee beans. Coffee variety grown are BBTC , Cutimore , Neranki and Brazil Cutimore ( Arabica). In 150 acres coffee is intercropped with pepper and banana (virupakshi and red variety). “We have unique and disciplined planting method of intercropping these two crops. We maintain two rows of coffee and one row of banana. Our pepper plants also grow in shade. In case of any re-plantation, we first plant banana and once the shade is created we plant coffee and pepper to have a consistent growth and 99% establishment,” he says. Cardamom is grown in another 10 acres.

“We are managing the estate from four generations now. Coffee has always been my passion therefore after my graduation from Singapore and a brief work experience in banking sector at Chennai I took over our plantation and processing unit,” he adds.

Soil pH and plant nutrient management are the two areas given utmost attention in the estate.
Speaking of farming practices, Mr. Peter says, “We rear cows and goats for manure. We turn the dung of the animals into manure. The herd size is eight cows and thirty three goats. In addition we use chemical fertilizers too but in minimum quantity. Fertilizers and manure are used along with beneficial micro organism like bacteria and fungus effective for plant growth and prevention from diseases. We use organic matter such as farm manure, sugarcane press mud and green manure to the maximum extent possible. Our ultimate aim is to achieve best production ensuring good health of the plants.” Commonly rust and berry borer pest attack coffee plantation but at Loyola Estate preventive measures are taken to ward off these attacks. “We make sure the soil organic content is more than 5%, ph is 6% and plants are fed with balanced nutrient rich organic manure.”

Scarcity of water is the major tribulation in agriculture today. To deal with the same at Loyola Estate water is efficiently used using latest irrigation techniques. “We have check dams of 4 acres and bore wells in our estate to meet our water requirements. We use foger system for cardamom, sprinklers for coffee, pepper and banana. Soon we shall have drip irrigation to further improvise on our irrigation systems,” he states.

Harvesting of coffee beans starts by October end, gets in full flow by November and ends by January. “We process the beans in-house. To do so after the fruits are harvested we pulp it and ferment for 20 hours. Post fermentation it is hand washed and sent to our curing works for drying. There we maintain a moisture of 11% and stock it. We cure and sell it as green coffee or parchment form according to the market demand,” he explains. Most of the stock is exported however if the market is volatile then it is sold in the local market.

Cardamom variety grown in the estate is ‘Nalani Gold’. “It is high yielding variety. Size of cardamom is big and has attractive light green colour. It has a good market price too,” highlights Mr. Peter. To keep the plants safe from the diseases good shade management is practiced, bio-pesticide is sprayed once in 30-40 days for stem borer and right amount of water plus nutritive manure is fed in the soil. “We harvest cardamom 8-9 times in one year.” Per acre 400-600 kg cardamom is obtained.

Mr. Peter recommends virupakshi and red banana to other coffee growers as intercrop. These banana varieties compliment coffee cultivation very well. “After planting the suckers we can harvest the fruits once in year. Post harvesting the fruit the plant residue is decomposed in the soil. We are developing the planting material for these banana varieties within the estate,” he states. Bananas are sold in the commission shop as well as at farm gate. During festive occasions demand goes up and price is fixed accordingly.

He concludes, “Agriculture is passion driven profession and having it as an ancestral occupation is an added advantage. Younger generation must explore this field for sure as it is truly amazing to see how the nature works. Everything is so much inter-related. There is so much to learn and experiment always.”

Contact Details:
Mr. Peter Naresh
The Joseph Coffee Curing Works
15-2-133, Kamarajar Thidal, Pattiveeranpatti- 624211, Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu
Phone: 09655333999
Email: jccworks@loyolaestate.com , jccworks@gmail.com
Web: http://www.loyolaestate.com/

Vibez Estate – pursue farming and maintain farm house

Manages pomegranate and coffee estate for farming enthusiast professionals

“There are many people who want to own agricultural farmland, pursue farming and maintain farm house but could not due to their professional commitments. So we did a pilot project to understand if people would buy coffee estate and we received a very positive response! In this way we got into developing and promoting coffee estate,” says Mr. Ashwin Kumar, Co-founder, Vibez Estate. “People would buy the farmland but who would maintain it! Many were dependent on relatives/friends/employees. End result was estate was neglected and money was misused. Myself and Mr. Ramakrishna Reddy could relate to the problem and established Vibez Estate to monitor the production and maintain the estate. Later we also started similar model for pomegranate farming.” Company was started in 2009. It is located at Bangalore and manages coffee estate in Chikkamagalur and Sakeleshpur, Karnataka while pomegranate in Pawagad at the borders of Karnataka.

Mr. Ashwin Kumar receiving the award

Vibez Estate works on the model, ‘Ownerships is yours-Workmanship is ours’. Based on this model, company signs a maintenance agreement with the clients. Agreement clearly states the role and responsibilities along with specific clause to monetary understandings. “People found the model interesting and agreement transparent. As a result presently we have around 288acres under cultivation for different clients. Approximately 175-180 professionals are our clients. They are happy with us and are also getting good revenues,” he claims. Company specializes in coffee and pomegranate cultivation. At the moment it is focused in these crops. “We prefer mono cropping,” he adds.

30acres is the minimum acreage of the farmland taken by the company. If the farmland is situated at the place different from above mentioned locations then minimum 50acres farmland is considered for the agreement. “First we visit the farmland to inspect the available resources such as water, soil, electricity and road connectivity. Once satisfied with the farming conditions at the location we proceed with the agreement,” informs Mr. Ashwin Kumar on the project undertaken.

Speaking on financial agreement he elucidates, “Investment in the estate and maintenance expenditure is borne by the customer. In the revenue that is generated from the produce, a percentage is taken by us as a commission and rest is given to the client.” Nevertheless company does not interfere in the farmland purchase. It is focused on crop cultivation, and maintenance and selling the produce.

Pomegranate Farm

Clients are updated weekly on the farm progress through online interaction. “We provide every member with a user id and password. They can login as they want to check on work progress and expenses incurred. If the farming expense details are shown to a full-time farmer, he might certify that we spend reasonably infact surely lower cost,” he asserts.

Mixed farming is practiced for the cultivation. “Mainly we use organic farming inputs but we also use some chemicals such as pesticide like round up, gramaoxicillin as weedicide and linden for stem borers for Arabica plants. We prepare vermicompost on farm itself,” he explains.

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Comparing coffee and pomegranate farming potential Mr. Ashwin Kumar insists both are different as the two serves different target segments. “Coffee estate attracts the professionals who are looking for some good retirement plan. They aspire to have a farmhouse after retirement and settle there,” he shares. “On contrary pomegranate farm is preferred by those looking for some add-on income.”

In coffee plantation maintenance cost incurred is Rs. 40 thousand/acre/annum while revenue generated is Rs. 75 thousand-1 lakh/acre/annum. In pomegranate farming cost incurred is Rs. 60 thousand/acre/annum and revenue earned is Rs. 2.5lakhs/acre/annum. (These are approximate figures subject to market variations). Coffee and pomegranate harvest so far is given to the traders.

Challenges faced are identifying the proper land with clear documents, good connectivity to main road, feasibility of transportation and scarcity of labors.

Vibez Estate has received Indira Priyadarshini National Award, 2013 for rural entrepreneurship. Founders plan for expansion in acreage and crops. “Mostly by the end of 2016 we are planning to have our own outlet for coffee. In addition we want to expand our farming acreage to 500 plus acres,” he reveals the future plan. “We are now in pepper farming too. Previously pepper was grown only as intercrop in our managed coffee estate but recently we have taken up a 25 acres exclusive pepper farm in Karnataka.”

Indian agriculture industry might be disorganized but it is gaining back its shine that was lost in the past few years. “There is good scope for growth in agriculture. Many educated people are considering it as business venture,” concludes Mr. Ashwin Kumar.

Contact details-
Vibez Estate
No 121, Abiksha Complex, Bull Temple Road, Basavanagudi, Bangalore – 19
Ph: 08951234567
Email: info@vibezclub.com
Web: http://pomegranate.vibezestates.in/