Welcome to India's newest coffee-producing region
Bastar, one of the districts in Chhattisgarh, well-known for its dense forests, is identified largely as a Maoist-dominated area. The state government, however, is set to give an overall makeover to the district by eradicating the Maoists from the area promoting the production of coffee to give the region a new identity in the country and at the global level.
There are widespread talks about promoting coffee cultivation in Bastar, after the recent state visit by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. He had a cup of coffee at the Bastar coffee stall at an exhibition held in the terror hotbed. In order to promote coffee in the Indian and international market, Congress MP suggested that state Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel sign an MoU of 'Bastaria' coffee with international coffee brands.
The life of the people in Bastar is completely dependent on agriculture and forest produce. Paddy is grown the maximum in terms of agriculture, but now innovation is slowly taking shape. Coffee is being cultivated on several hundred acres of land in Darbha, Kakalgur and Dilmili villages under the Darbha block due to which the forest dwellers and farmers are earning huge profits.
The reason for the cultivation of coffee in the Darbha block of Bastar is that this cultivation can be done only in those areas which are located several metres high above the sea level. People associated with realising this initiative say that three things are necessary for the cultivation of coffee -- height from sea level, rainfall between February-March and area which is not under direct sunlight. The Darbha development block is located at an altitude of 600 to 1400 metres above sea level.
Two varieties of coffee are being grown in Bastar -- Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta. Coffee was cultivated as an experiment, which has proved to be successful and now farmers have started cultivating it. Many other crops can be produced along with coffee cultivation.
Bastar Collector Rajat Bansal told IANS that the people from the tribal community, who depend completely on forest produce and traditional farming, are choosing coffee cultivation as a profitable and viable option. Their life is undergrowing a transformation with their income doubling. The state government has formed a coffee board to encourage the cultivation of coffee in the state. The coffee produced here has been found to be of high quality by the coffee board of the country.
Experts say that in a year, nearly Rs 30,000 to 40,000 per acre is the profit earned from the cultivation of coffee which is much more than other crops. In view of the adaptability of the climate in Bastar, coffee cultivation has been started on nearly 3,000 acre. The popularity of Bastar coffee is fast spreading in foreign countries as well. Coffee is currently being exported from the state to eight countries.
Coffee cultivation can be of immense help for increasing the income of farmers in the state, that is why an action plan has been prepared for the coming six decades which will benefit the farmers on a large-scale.