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Kodagu farmer producer company exports first direct shipment of coffee to Europe

For the first time Kodagu coffee growers, who formed a farmer producer company, Biota Coorg FPC, have exported their crop directly to a roaster in Europe.

After suffering 50-70 per cent crop loss due to excessive rainfall and landslides over the last three years, small, mid-sized and large coffee growers in Kodagu district of Karnataka, who pooled in their coffees under Biota Coorg, are set to receive a 15-20 per cent premium, on an average.

Incorporated in January, Biota Coorg made its first direct export shipment of bulk branded coffees to a large roaster in Europe last week. A container consisting of 320 bags (60 kgs/per bag) of Robusta Cherry AB sourced from 75 of its members was shipped from Mangaluru port on September 30. The company plans to ship 10 more containers to different roasters across Europe, of which two containers are scheduled to be shipped in October and the rest by December. In addition, since its inception, Biota Coorg has directly sold Arabica coffees to local roasters and local cafes at a premium. The 10 founding directors of Biota Coorg, collectively have over 100 years of domain expertise in coffee growing and allied areas including exports of agri commodities, global marketing of coffees, agro-forestry, plantation management, organisation development and coffee quality enhancement through cupping.

Unique flavour

Grown under the shade of multiple species of endemic rainforest trees at an elevation of 3,000– 4,000 feet above sea level, Coorg coffees have distinct fruity notes because of the wild figs, citrus fruits that grow in the rainforests and caramel notes from the leaf litter-enriched soil. Because of the higher elevation, Robusta coffees from Kodagu take a longer time to mature and ripen, thereby resulting in a softer cup.

“The objective of incorporating Biota is to market and put Coorg Coffee on the world map by elevating its quality based on the region’s ecology and biodiversity,” IB Bopanna, one of the founding directors of Biota Coorg and former Senior Global Director- Coffee, The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, USA, told BusinessLine.

“Earlier growers were selling their coffee in bulk with little differentiation to local traders, at prevailing market prices. We are a cohort of 75 members (in our first year of operation) who have committed to superior on-farm harvesting and post harvesting standards that will command a premium in the international and domestic markets. We are committed to uphold the legacy of the region’s biodiversity by adhering to an audited standard in addition to RFA (Rainforest Alliance) certification, which we have applied for. All the coffee we procure is 100 per cent traceable. Every grower’s coffee is segregated, processed at the Tata Coffee facility in Kodagu, cupped and prepared specially to fit the requirement of high quality roasts, blends and brands.”

Community initiative

MB Ganapathy, former Chairman of KPA, said: “There are many large coffee growers who export their coffees in their individual capacities however, the majority who are small growers are dependent on the local traders to sell their coffee. Biota Coorg is a great community initiative that will benefit small coffee growers who can join hands and realise better prices for their produce by following quality practices set by Biota that will adhere to international standards of roasters.”

Bose Mandanna, a large grower and Biota member, said: “The advantage for international roasters is that they are ensured of a consistent supply of quality coffees from Biota. We have received a standard of good agricultural practices from Biota which we strictly follow including the use of chemicals and labour. We harvest the coffee at the right time, pulp it on the same day, wash it clean and dry it to the correct moisture levels, after which it is inspected by a Biota representative, who then further processes it in the curing works.”
Source: The Hindu Business Line

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