Ashok Kumar, a coffee grower at Parakkal here, stands out from his ilk by tapping the maximum potential of coffee plants through apt technology and management practices.
The productivity of coffee plants in his garden is manyfold when compared to the Coffee Board’s estimation on coffee production in the country. Perseverance, sharp observation, timely intervention, and technological backing have stood the farmer in good stead.
According to the Coffee Board, the average annual production of coffee in an acre in the country is 350 kg to 400 kg. However, Mr. Ashok Kumar produces 1,500 kg to 2,000 kg from an acre a year on his garden on 20 acres.
Irrigation, soil requisites, and health of plants are properly maintained in the garden to harness this seemingly unattainable production. “Wayanad has the potential to become the highest producer of coffee in the country if it follows scientific garden management and plant protection measures,” says Mr. Ashok Kumar.
Grafting, the key
He primarily relies on grafting to enhance yield. Low-yielding plants are grafted with scions taken from high-yielding ones from the same plot. This process is repeated over a decade. All plants in his garden have been grafted with high-yielding scions. “There is no need for uprooting older coffee plants in a garden if the grafting method is adopted,” he says.
The plants in his garden are numbered and tagged with aluminium foils to record the yield every year. Experiments have also been taken up in spacing the coffee plants for a better yield. According to Mr. Ashok Kumar, Robusta coffee varieties such as CXR and S274 are quite suitable for a traditional coffee-growing regions like Wayanad.
Shade regulation too is crucial in coffee production, since more shade would lead to increased pest attacks and diseases, he said. The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) recently recognised him as the best coffee farmer.
“Every farmer should have a basic idea of the nature and characteristics of coffee before venturing to cultivate it. A visit to his garden will provide a farmer with ample information on setting up a profitable plantation,” says Joseph John, scientist, MSSRF here.