A cup of freshly brewed morning coffee has the power to aware all our senses to start the day afresh! But, the hard work and efforts that go since the planting of seedlings to harvesting the berries and the final processing to provide us that fresh aroma of coffee is a huge task that our beloved farmers take up every day. Mr. Asok Kumar is one of the dedicated farmers who are diligently pursuing coffee farming by adopting and adapting scientific technologies and management practices. He proudly explains how the potential of the coffee plant in his garden is almost double compared to any other gardens in the state because of the sharp observations, timely interventions and technological backing. As per Coffee Board, the average production of coffee from an acre is 350-400kg but Mr. Ashok is fetching a yield of whopping 1750-2000kg from an acre of landholding. Climatic condition, soil nutrition and health of the plant should be adequately maintained in the coffee garden to harness this seemingly unattainable production. “Wayanad has the right potential to become the highest producer of coffee in the country if it follows scientific garden management practices and plant protection measures”, says Mr. Asok Kumar.
Vegetative propagation techniques such as grafting, budding, layering etc are unleashed in his garden for the production of coffee and are effectively utilized. Almost all plants in his garden are carefully numbered and tagged with aluminium foils to record the yield in every year and it is also properly documented on yearly basis. The low yielding plants in his garden are grafted with scions taken from high yielding plants from his own plot. This process has been repeating in his garden for over a period of 10 years and all plants in his garden have been grafted with high yielding scions. Once the scions develop new shoots, the suckers will be allowed to grow and produce coffee but the older branches will be removed so that only the scions will remain as a new plant. “There is no need of uprooting the older coffee plants in the garden since the scion will act as a new plant”, says Mr. Asok Kumar
Apart from being an outstanding coffee producer, Mr. Asok even conducted yield enhancing experiments in his garden which is truly an inspiration for fellow farmers and scholars. Experiments were taken up regarding yield enhancement based on various spacing distance between the plants. Normal spacing of 10×10 ft, 8×8 ft, and even 4×4 ft etc. were tried out in the garden with various varieties of coffee plants. Most of these spacing has provided better yield in all the trials in conditions where scientific garden management practices were followed. Robusta coffee provides higher yield under Wayanad conditions compared to Arabica as it gives higher production and Mr. Asok is also cultivating Robusta coffee in his garden. He emphasis that shade regulation is another key component in the management of coffee garden and the shade should be limited to a maximum of 40% to have optimum yield. Since the increase in the shade can lead to increased incidence of pests and diseases, it is very important to regulate shade in the coffee graden. Over shade can also adversely affect the coffee production due to pest and disease occurence.
Being a progressive coffee farmer, Mr. Asok Kumar also extends his service in coffee production to farmers all across the state in form of classes and in kind such as providing planting materials. Mr. Asok says, “Every farmer should have a basic idea about the nature and characteristics of coffee before entering to coffee farming”. “Nowadays, effective integration of fruit crops such as Mangostein, Rambutan etc. can provide farmers better income coupled with increased crop diversity and everyone should try such fruit trees as an intercrop in coffee gardens”, he added. M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation recognized him as the best coffee farmer in the year 2015 and regularly facilitates in rendering his services as a resource person for farmer training programmes in coffee production.
Asok Kumar can be reached at 9447219020.