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Kerala’s tribal women make waves at World Coffee Conference in Bengaluru

The Keezhanthoor Coffee grown by tribal women has a distinct flavour and aroma

The quaint and small village of Keezhanthoor in Idukki district of Kerala is making waves at the ongoing World Coffee Conference in Bengaluru. The village can now take pride as it has received global acclaim at the fifth edition of the conference which is being organised for the first time in India.

Planted and grown by tribal women of Keezhanthoor in the village’s highlands at an altitude of 5,000 feet above sea level, this tribal artisanal has a rare and distinct aroma and flavour when compared to other Arabica coffee varieties.

Kerala’s Kottayam-based Plantrich Agritech P. Ltd is displaying this coffee at the international expo at its stall. The company which is in the business of exporting organic spices from Kerala to global markets is ensuring that the artisanal coffee travels worldwide. The coffee is being showcased by six tribal women farmers at the four-day event being held at Bangalore Palace from Monday.

This coffee is grown amid fruit plantations – apple and orange — and sandalwood forests in the village which is nestled in the rain shadow area of Western Ghats. According to Sreekumar, Plantrich CEO, the Keezhanthoor coffee has the peculiarities of the land where it is grown. Its distinct flavour has been confirmed by experts through rigorous cupping process, he added.

In October 2014, Manarcadu Social Service Society in collaboration with Plantrich Agritech made Keezhanthoor a certified organic coffee village. The company began buying coffee beans from farmers to export it around the world. Till then, the coffee beans were procured from farmers by middlemen who used to exploit them by paying them a paltry sum.

This special coffee is grown in the village by 294 families, most of whom are tribal people for almost the last 50 years. As the produce did not fetch a good price due to involvement of middlemen, many farmers gave up cultivating this coffee. With MASS intervening to help the farmers, the production of the crop continued and at present 150 hectares of land is under coffee cultivation.

As this special coffee is exclusively grown and harvested by tribal women by using traditional methods of farming, Plantrich is working on trying to market it under the brand name Keezhanthoor women tribal coffee in international markets.