Koraput, March 27 (LocalWire): Koraput may soon have its own coffee curing unit and its own coffee brand but it wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of the man who followed his dreams to make a non-traditional coffee belt prosper into a coffee hub.
Pradeep Mohanty, fondly known as the Coffee Buddha, is a botanist turned farmer and started the first coffee plantation in Koraput in 1987.
Odisha Government’s Soil Conservation Department had tried to start coffee farming in the 1960s but lacked a professional hand.
Pradeep left his doctoral thesis at the Central Rice Research Institute in Cuttack midway in 1982 to work on his dream project inspired by the stories of foreign planters.
He went around the state in search of suitable land and found what he sought in Sundhiput.
With no electricity and no roads, Pradeep operated from a borrowed portable tent.
Initially, he convinced the non-tribals in Sundhiput to sell him land and eventually extended to Nuaput where he involved tribals and non-tribals in his venture.
No banks granted loan to a beginner and he had to resort to growing lentils and vegetables to survive as coffee takes five years to grow.
Later, a bank financed his farm partially. Now, he has 72 hectares of plantation on the foothills of Deomali range that produces 45 tonnes of coffee annually.
His plantation also harvests black pepper.
Locals credit him for the success this project has seen. They say the coffee from his farms ‘epitomizes Koraput coffee’.
Tribals don’t need to go to money lenders anymore as they work on his plantation and get paid.
Besides organic farming, Pradeep trained villagers to guard against malaria and snake bites which were the cause for many deaths.
With the vision of making Koraput coffee a brand he says, ‘I believe Odisha has the potential to become the country’s coffee capital in the future.’