Kodagu First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Kodagu, Coorgs and the People of Kodagu – here at Home and Overseas
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    The House of Ramapuram, promoters of The Orange County Resorts, as part of taking their eco-friendly and community based resorts concept beyond the borders of Karnataka in India and also beyond India, has taken a new brand name, Evolve Back. Notwithstanding the renaming, the promoters assert that they will continue to uphold the time tested ethos and philosophy embedded in the ‘spirit of the land’. Jose Ramapuram, Director-Marketing, Evolve Back Luxury Resorts in an interaction with P Krishna Kumar elucidate the reasons behind the renaming, future expansion, investment challenges in the eco-resort space, etc.

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    Q What made you rebrand Orange County, a well-established resort brand, as Evolve Back Luxury Resorts? What is the significance of this rebranding in the future journey of the company?
    We, The House of Ramapuram, are planters by tradition, diversified into the hospitality business in 1994 by setting up a small resort in their 100-year-old, 300-acre ChikkanaHalli Estate in Coorg. What came naturally to us was to share our way of life and warm hospitality with our primarily urban guests. As we are prepared to expand the locational footprint of our resorts to other parts of India, Africa and Asia, we felt we need a universal name that was inspired by our ‘Spirit of the land’ philosophy.

    The Orange County name was chosen for our first resort at Coorg, in memory of the captivating fragrance and flavour of this wonderful fruit which was, not long ago, part of the spirit of Coorg.

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    Being crafted specifically for our resort in Coorg, it was not conveying the ‘Spirit of the land’ character of our new resorts – Kuruba Tribal Village themed resort at Kabini and the Vijayanagara Palace themed resort at Hampi.

    Moreover, we found that in the global tourism markets, the brand name ‘Orange County’ had a very strong association with a county in California, USA.

    Today, as we prepare to expand the locational footprint further in India, and to Africa and Asia, we realised the need to rename the brand to reflect our ‘Spirit of the land’ spirit but with a universal appeal. That’s how we arrived at a more appropriate name ‘Evolve Back’.

    Q The core of Orange County has been your commitment to sustainable and responsible luxury. What significant changes the rebranding would bring to that core or what additional aspect you would stress upon in Evolve Back?
    ‘Evolve Back’ is the new brand name given to the same ‘Spirit of the land’ experience which we strive to immerse all of our guests in. It is inspired by the past when the air, land and all of nature was pure, hospitality was from the heart, life was simple, nice and peaceful, culture was of the land and food was from the goodness of nature. Evolve Back is the signature style of delivering all these with the best in comforts and luxuries.

    In short, nothing has changed besides, just the name. The journey with Evolve Back will be the same mystical trip down the roads of history and culture. Despite the name change, the ownership, management, and operations or the company are still under the ownership of Orange County Resorts & Hotels Ltd.

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    Q Since the rebranding coincides with the launch of your new property in Hampi, how would the brand ethos be reflecting in that property? How your latest resort in Hampi is different from the other two resorts?
    Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace in Hampi is inspired by the grandeur and magnificence of the 14th Century Vijayanagara Empire and is located 4 kilometres from the historic ruins of Hampi. Kamalapura Palace complements its surrounding by adding to its beauty and splendour, while enthralling its guests with its luxurious offerings.

    The Evolve Back property in all its resplendence is a glorious tribute to the hey days of the Vijayanagara empire. The entire project has been designed after spending many months with the locals and in studying the history of the region. Special care has been taken to weave in the cultural and traditional aspects of Hampi into the architecture, the theme, the interiors and other aspects of Evolve Back Kamalapura Palace. Visitors to the property will get to soak in a slice of history though the myriad elements that make a play for one’s senses during their stay.

    Q You have recently announced your plans to go scouting for properties outside Karnataka in India as well as to overseas destinations in Asia and Africa. Could you share your future investment plans and timelines for these developments?
    Evolve Back is looking to expand over the next three years, during which we expect to open four new properties across India and abroad. The investment for the expansion is estimated to be around INR 112 crore. This entire investment amount is planned to be raised with a mix of internal accruals and debt.

    We are looking to tap the new-found interest among people for experiential travel, especially at untapped destinations. We usually avoid overcrowded destinations, and scout for those un-spoilt markets where we sense the potential to grow — not just for us, but also for the destination.

    We will be developing a resort at Kumta in North Karnataka district over an area of 30 acres with an investment of INR 50 crore. This resort is planned to be themed on a local fishing village. We are also looking at a palace-themed resort at the medieval town of Mandu in Madhya Pradesh. This property is expected to see an investment of INR 35 crore.

    In the interim, a property each in African and an Asian country are being planned.

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    Q What are the challenges investors in eco-resorts face in India considering it requires comparatively large land area at ecologically sensitive and fragile locations?
    The biggest challenge we face is in acquiring land in these locations. Land in many parts of India is largely fragmented and furthermore we will need to acquire the land from multiple individuals. The next challenge is in getting the required clearances for the project from multiple departments and signatories. Environmental laws are typically very rigid and hence take a lot of time and effort to comply with all the requirements.

    In addition to this, because of the vast distances between locations, basic services such as electricity and water are typically hard to come by. In fact, most of the basic infrastructure that we take for granted, is missing or inadequate and needs to be developed from scratch. All this is not only extremely time consuming causing unnecessary delays but also ends up escalating costs as a result.

    krishna.kumar@saffronsynergies.in

    source: http://www.hospitalitybizindia.com / Hospitality Biz India.com / Home> Interview / Friday – September 15th, 2017

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    Bengaluru :

    The Western Ghats has been plundered over the years, resulting also in progressively hotter summers in Bengaluru. While afforestation efforts to save the Ghats have been on for years, a team of passionate and dedicated Bengalureans is trying a different approach to save the many tree species. They are planting acres-wide groves in private and public lands that fall in the range, for now focussing on Coorg and Wayanad.

    Meera, Rajesh, Sheshadri Ramaswamy, Uma, Anil Panolil Chirikandoth and Dhandapany collectively form Forest First Samithi (FFS) – a society that aims to engage and empower local communities in ecological conservation by educating them about endangered and endemic plant species. What started off as a team of four has today grown into a family with ten permanent members and over 30 volunteers.”FFS is trying to conserve endangered tree species by creating an eco-system where birds, small mammals and insects can also thrive,” says Meera, one of the founders of FFS, adding that the organization was started in 2008, and that most of their early years were spent on learning.

    FFS’ vision for degraded lands in Kodagu started this May, and they have already spoken to local organizations and communities to get them on board. “Since we started work in Kodagu, we have already managed to add 35 species of endangered plants into the groves we worked on, and plan to touch 100 species,” she says, adding that the lands they are focusing on are public spaces ranging between 5 acres and 30 acres.

    Workers in Wayanad grove  Pics courtesy: Meera Rajesh

    Workers in Wayanad grove  Pics courtesy: Meera Rajesh

    How it all started

    FFS started work in the biological hotspot that is Wayanad, where a lot of native tree species have been chopped to give way to silver oak, coffee and teak plantations. Meera says that unless one ventures deep into the forest, it is unlikely you’ll come across any traditional species. “During the summer months, we noticed how trees in Wayanad were being chopped at an alarming rate for timber. That’s when we decided to do something about it. We got involved in a lot of discussions with research organizations and experts on how to go about it, and also spoke to locals to get them involved,” she says.

    Years of hard work and research resulted in the complete transformation of a private farm land in Wayanad, where a section of it was partitioned to create what is called a ‘farm grove’. This grove comprises endemic, endangered tree species, while the rest of the land can be used for economic purposes. By getting farmers and land owners involved in understanding how these endangered species will actually better their crops in terms of soil quality, water retention and pollination, FFS has managed to conserve 100 species of trees in Wayanad.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Bengaluru / by M Shriya Sharma / Express News Service / September 06th, 2017

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    Up in arms:Activists protesting as part of the ‘Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery’ campaign at Kutta in Kodagu on Saturday.Special Arrangement

    Up in arms:Activists protesting as part of the ‘Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery’ campaign at Kutta in Kodagu on Saturday.Special Arrangement

    Activists from nearly 30 organisations hold Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery rally

    To draw public attention to the rapid ecological devastation of Kodagu brought about by development projects, scores of people staged a protest at Kutta as part of the ‘Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery’ campaign on Saturday.

    Activists and citizens from nearly 30 organisations and NGOs participated in it to stem the tide of what they described as the growing ecological destruction of Kodagu district, which is also the catchment area for the Cauvery.

    The activists assembled first at Ponnampet and were joined by others at Kutta, bordering Karnataka and Kerala where a rally was taken out. The highway was blocked for nearly an hour.

    The campaign had its share of critics who questioned the motives and rationale of the conclusions of the activists but the latter described them as misguided by vested interest groups.

    The crux of the issue revolves around new projects such as two railway lines that will link Kodagu or cut across the district, besides national highways.

    The rapid urbanisation of the region, besides indiscriminate tree felling under the guise of “development” has reduced the green cover of the district over the years, according to the activists.

    They have objected to the Mysuru-Kushalnagar railway line which is being bandied about as a market link for coffee growers of the district with the rest of India while the other railway line is the proposed link between Mysuru and Thalassery in Kerala which passes through some of the dense forests and elephant habitat. Col. C.P. Muthanna (retd) of Coorg Wildlife Society said such projects would only escalate human-animal conflict in Kodagu as these so-called development works would lead to habitat fragmentation, disturbance and destruction.

    The Save Kodagu, Save Cauvery campaign also highlighted the vanishing green cover in the district and linked to it depleting rainfall in the region since the last few years which has affected local agriculture.

    Being the catchment area for the Cauvery the forest cover had to be protected and if the river and its ecosystem was not saved, then nothing would survive, said the activists, pointing out that the river served as a source of drinking water to people in south Karnataka region, including Mysuru and Bengaluru.

    Reiterating that every hectare of land acquired for development projects in Kodagu would result in the felling of nearly 350 fully grown and mature trees, the activists said the extent of tree-felling and damage to the ecology could only be imagined as large swathes of land extending to hundreds of hectares were needed for such projects.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Karnataka / by Special Correspondent / Mysuru – August 27th, 2017

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    Crabs being sold near Madikeri KSRTC bus stand and Bamboo shoots laid out for sale. DH Photos

    Crabs being sold near Madikeri KSRTC bus stand and Bamboo shoots laid out for sale. DH Photos

    It’s that time of the year when the sale of crabs and bamboo shoots in Madikeri goes up. Monsoon is indeed an ideal time to indulge in crabs as they are considered good for generating heat in the body which helps in braving the chill in the air.

    To keep oneself warm, people in Kodagu adjust their food habits during monsoon. Likewise, the roadsides in the town are lined up with crabs and bamboo shoots.

    Earlier, crabs were available in plenty at paddy fields and water bodies but in spite of an increase in demand, crab sellers have been on the decline. A deficit in rainfall has affected the availability of crabs.

    “Demand for crabs increases in the month of Aashada. Since paddy fields have declined in the district and many have been converted into homestays, I collect crabs from Harangi reservoir, Periyapatna, HD Kote and Beemanahalli and bring it to Madikeri for sale. The price of a kg of crab is Rs 200 while a bundle of crab (12 crabs in a bundle) costs Rs 250. A pack of bamboo shoots is sold for Rs 50,” H L Kumar, a seller from Indira Nagara told DH.

    Venu said that, “Earlier, crabs were available in the shandy market but with chemical fertilisers and insecticides being sprayed in paddy fields, the number of crabs have declined,” he said. Venu signs off by stating that crabs are delicious to savour as crab fry instead of curry.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / DH News Service, Madikeri / July 22nd, 2017

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    Hadinarukallu Mantap and the bathing ghat are partially submerged in swollen Kapila river following the release of water from Kabini reservoir in Nanjangud taluk on Sunday. dh photo

    Hadinarukallu Mantap and the bathing ghat are partially submerged in swollen Kapila river following the release of water from Kabini reservoir in Nanjangud taluk on Sunday. dh photo

    Reservoirs in the state continued to receive good volume of water despite a lull in monsoon showers. The inflow to Tungabhadra reservoir has increased following the release of water from Tunga dam in Shivamogga district.

    The reservoir near Hosapete has received a staggering 8 tmcft of water since Friday. The storage level in the reservoir on Sunday stood at 26.211 tmcft. It was 18.305 tmcft on Friday. The inflow was 51,162 cusecs while the outflow was 2,359 cusec.

    Harangi reservoir in Kodagu district is only 2 feet short of reaching the full reservoir level (FRL). The water level at Harangi on Sunday was 2,857.21 feet while the FRL is 2,859 feet.
    About 1,200 cusecs water from the reservoir was released into the river.

    Minor Irrigation, Superintending Engineer, M N Chandrakumar, said, “ Based on the volume of inflow to the reservoir, water would be released into the river in phases.

    A meeting of the irrigation consultation committee will be held in Bengaluru on July 25. After the meeting, the decision will be taken to release water through canals for agricultural activities.”

    Keeping in mind the safety of the reservoir, the water level would be maintained at 2,857 feet, said Executive Engineer S C Rangaswamy.

    At present, the Harangi reservoir has a storage of 7.89 tmcft. The reservoir had reached FRL last year on July 10. The reservoir irrigates 1,34,895 acre farm land in Kodagu district and Periyapatna, Hunsur, KR Nagar in Mysuru district and Arkalgud in Hassan district.

    Meanwhile, the six low-laying barrages-cum-bridges across Krishna and its tributaries in Chikkodi taluk in Belagavi district continued to remain under water despite a lull in showers in Maharashtra. Krishna river has recorded an inflow of 1.71 lakh cusecs on Sunday while its tributary Malaprabha received 20,113 cusecs. Doodhganga and Vedganga are flowing in full spate.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> State / DH News Service, Bengaluru / July 24th, 2017

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    The Travancore wolf snake sprawled near the bathroom mirror of the author’s room / Photo by Medha Saxena

    The Travancore wolf snake sprawled near the bathroom mirror of the author’s room /
    Photo by Medha Saxena

    Homestays in Coorg offer visitors a glimpse of a unique eco-system. Coorg or Kodagu is part of the Western Ghats that have been declared a world heritage site. It has many plantations that host hundreds of threatened species

    It had beautiful dark coffee-brown scales with yellowish stripes and a sinuous slender body stretching no more than two feet.

    The languid Tranvancore Wolf snake lay sprawled on the bathroom mirror. It had sneaked in to avoid the gentle night precipitation and was basking in the steam left behind by the hot water running earlier. It was hard to miss once the solar light was flicked on.

    Gradually, it coiled back and slithered to a safer, darker corner behind the mirror. I was not sure at the time if it was venomous since it resembles the common Krait and is often targeted for the same reason. Suffice to say that I lay awake for most part of the night, wondering whether my nocturnal guest would like to take a peek at the room as well.

    This was my penultimate night at the Rainforest Ecolodge on Mojo Plantation nestled at 1100-m altitude in Kodagu, Karnataka. The monsoon in a rainforest comes with its own delights and surprises. Leeches are a case in point. They crave to attach themselves to any warm body passing by to satisfy their desire for blood. But their presence also indicates a fertile soil and ecosystem. They are both the predator and the prey.

    Beautiful butterflies found in plenty during monsoon in the rain forests of the Western Ghats /   Photo by Medha Saxena

    Beautiful butterflies found in plenty during monsoon in the rain forests of the Western Ghats / Photo by Medha Saxena

    Then there are the frogs, toads, spiders, wasps, dragon flies, lizards, snakes and birds. Their tribe multiplies and diversifies with every shower of water it seems. And the heavens provide them plenty of those here. But they only proliferate in undisturbed habitats. Each one of the creatures that call the rainforest home have adapted themselves to it over the millennia.

    Each adaptation and evolution is a fascinating revelation. Weaver ants are a marvellous example. Thousands of them coordinate with each other to stitch together nests out of leaves much bigger than themselves.

    Trees themselves appear like curated art installations climbing vertically and horizontally. They are draped with vines, creepers, fungi, moss, lichen, orchids and a variety of other epiphytes that resemble emeralds and jewels on a bride. They glisten and shine best on bright wet mornings.

    Twinkling fireflies circle the trunks during nightfall. The valley was covered with a million of these mating fireflies a month or so earlier in a perfect ‘symphony in light’ as the student-interns Meghna and Lily, working at the plantation recounted.

    Being in a rainforest during monsoon is also a musical extravaganza. Its inhabitants are engaged in a synchronised performance at all hours of the day. Louder than revellers in a marriage procession the frogs and cicadas often accompany the sound of rain, streams and wind. The cacophony is coupled with serenity in equal measure. If you listen hard enough everything in the forest sings. But how many of us really listen?

    Geography and Bio-Diversity

    Kodagu is part of the wide-ranging Western Ghats, older than Himalayas, spanning from Gujarat to Kerala for 1600 kms. It directly intercepts the Indian monsoon winds. One of the eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biodiversity, it has 325 globally threatened species (flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish) and many that are unique to this area.

    The lush green forests also help with carbon sequestration and reduction of global warming /   Photo by Medha Saxena

    The lush green forests also help with carbon sequestration and reduction of global warming / Photo by Medha Saxena

    This mosaic of natural beauty was inscribed as a world heritage site in 2012 meant to be protected by the Western Ghats Natural Heritage Management Committee (WGNHMC) and receive international support.

    The tag was achieved after much opposition by states that feared that development will be impeded. Critics said that an informed consent was not obtained from the gram sabhas and Forest Rights Act 2006 was not implemented properly during drafting of the proposal for grant of heritage status. It could also violate the historic customary rights of the adivasis.

    The forests of Western Ghats, however, aid economy and transportation by keeping the ports and creeks along western coast silt-free. The forests and mangroves also help with carbon sequestration and reduction of global warming.

    Other critics say that the declaration has no effect on damaging developmental activities. As recently as June 2, 2017, there were protests in Madikeri over destruction of wildlife habitat, Cauvery river catchment area and forest land for the construction of railways, highways and power lines. As more of the landscape is disturbed there is more human-elephant conflict. Illegal construction, mining and corruption have caused water scarcity during summer months in an area that is generally overfed by rains.

    The ensuing struggles repeatedly point us back towards essential questions of what is development. Who is it meant for? Who do the forests belong to? And how are decisions to be taken in the interest of all parties concerned?

    Organic Farming

    In ancient times the exotic products of the Kodagu region were traded along the Silk Route and on oceanic routes via the Arabian Sea. Cardamom and black pepper were indigenous to this region. Rice was the main crop. Coffee was brought from Yemen to Chikmagalur in India by Baba Budanin in 1670.

    Legend has it that the Coorg Rajas may have given land to Moplahs near Nalkanad who introduced coffee seeds to the area. In the mid-1850s many European coffee plantations sprung up followed by private Indian ones. When the British left, they sold their lands to the local population. There are strong remnants of British culture here, like the North Coorg Planters Club dating back to 1883.

    A walk through the greens gives an idea of the rich biodiversity of the region /  Photo by Medha Saxena

    A walk through the greens gives an idea of the rich biodiversity of the region / Photo by Medha Saxena

    Now a good chunk of the land is covered in coffee, tea, rubber and palm oil plantations. Commercial chemical-based farming and unsustainable agriculture have eroded this landscape. Smaller landholders and farmers still find it difficult to turn a good crop and farmer suicides affect the Western Ghats as well. There has been an attempt to set up farmer-owned companies by Agriculture and Organic Farming Group India. Hundreds of homestays have also come up in Coorg in the past few years to complement agricultural income.

    Sujata and Anurag Goel, owners of Mojo Plantation, have successfully experimented with organic farming doing multiple cropping with cardamom, black pepper, coffee and vanilla under the shade of the rainforest. Spice trees, fruits and vegetables are also grown in open areas.

    A molecular biologist, Sujata Goel explained that fungi secrete enzymes to release nutrients from decaying wood and dead organisms. Shivani, the manager, described on a tour of the plantation that fungal mycelium act as telecommunication networks for the trees to convey threats. They are also used as biological pest control. Similarly, termites redistribute soil and recycle nitrogen. Even weeds have an important role to play as temporary hideouts for insects.

    Plants themselves synthesise compounds (terpenes, tannins, phenolics) to repel insects and convey distress signals to other plants and predators. Chemical pesticides kill the natural defence mechanisms of plants..

    The Wise, Old Relic

    Meghna and Lily recount a magnolia tree that they variously describe as a ‘tree of life’, ‘tree mother’, ‘earth mother’, ‘magical beautiful wise old relic’ that has twists, turns and huge branches that one can climb and roots that open up into giant cave systems and tunnels underneath – in the middle of a coffee plantation.

    It was ‘a metaphor for India’ for them, probably signifying layers of wisdom, age and continuity in a land of general mayhem. Neither trees nor our bodies survive in exclusion to their environment. The commune with nature is complete. If you listen carefully, everything in the forest sings.

    The author teaches in Delhi University

    source: http://www.nationalheraldindia.com / National Herald / Home / by Medha Saxena / June 10th, 2017

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    The JD(U) leaders offered baagina to river Cauvery at Triveni Sangama in Bhagamandala on Sunday.

    JD(U) state president M P Nadagouda, women’s wing president Manjula Umesh, Kodagu district unit president Sunil Kumar, Mandya district unit president Basave Gowda also offered special prayers at Bhagandeshwara Temple.

    Speaking to reporters, Nadagouda said the state government and opposition parties have failed to fulfill the demands of the people. There is a need for alternative forces in the state. In this background, efforts are being made to strengthen JD(U). With the both Centre and state governments mud-slinging against each other with regard to waiver of loans, the farmers are in distress.

    Manjula Umesh said that farmers are backbone of the country. Having unable to repay the loans, the farmers are committing suicide.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / DHNS / Madikeri – June 12th, 2017

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    No new hotels or resorts can take shape in the Talacauvery sanctuary

    No new hotels or resorts can take shape in the Talacauvery sanctuary

    The government has declared the Talacauvery Wild Life Sanctuary spread across 105.59 sq km as an eco-sensitive zone. This comes after the Environment Ministry notification on the proposed ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) in the Western Ghats. The state has about five national parks and 27 sanctuaries, seven conservation reserve and one community reserve. The draft notification was issued on May 25 last year and the final notification was issued on May 15.

    Kodagu Chief Conservator of Forest Manoj Kumar told BM this is an eco-sensitive zone under the Environment Protection Act. As per the Act, the area around the protected area could be heritage sites and others and there has been a provision to declare them as sensitive zones. But this was not being done and the National Wildlife Board based on the Supreme Court direction had stated that it is about 10 km, if not declared. Hence, so far it used to be 10 km. “But we started rationalising the area and had sent a proposal. Each proposal is now being approved and the rest of the sanctuaries in the area around will soon be declared as sensitive zones. It is not the Kasturirangan report. It is a statutory requirement and the state government after discussion with the district administration and representatives had sent a proposal,” he said.

    As per the notification the region around the sanctuary from 1-16 km has been declared as the eco-sensitive zone. No commercial activity such as mining can be conducted and no new industries can be set up here. It also prohibits extension of industries that cause pollution, major hydel power plants, saw mills as well as rearing of animals. This declaration is also likely to hamper the union government highway project from Bhagamandala to Kerala’s Panathoor.

    source: http://www.bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com / Bangalore Mirror / Home> News> State / Bangalore Mirror Bureau / June 06th, 2017

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    Water Resources Minister M B Patil, Adichunchanagiri mutt seer Nirmalanandanatha swami, MLA P M Narendraswamy offer baagina at Triveni Sangama in Bhagamandala, Madikeri taluk on Sunday.

    Water Resources Minister M B Patil, Adichunchanagiri mutt seer Nirmalanandanatha swami, MLA P M Narendraswamy offer baagina at Triveni Sangama in Bhagamandala, Madikeri taluk on Sunday.

    To propitiate the rain gods, the officials of Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Ltd (CNNL) chanted Parjanya japa at Talacauvery, the birthplace of River Cauvery on Sunday.

    As there was stiff opposition for conducting parjanyahoma using government funds, homa was not performed. Only Parjanya japa and special prayers were held. CNNL Executive Engineer Basavaraj and his wife took part in the special prayers held under the guidance of priest Prashanth Achar. Water Resources Minister M B Patil did not take part in the japa.

    Patil, who arrived at Bhagamandala at 3 pm along with the Adichunchanagiri Mutt seer Nirmalanandanatha Swami, offered baagina at the Triveni Sangama in Bhagamandala. Later, he offered prayers at the Bhangadeshwara Temple and Talacauvery.

    Speaking to reporters, the minister said “if offering prayers to motheris wrong and a superstititious belief, then I am ready to conduct such prayers several times. Some offer prayers to lifeless stones. Why should one oppose offering prayers to the river Cauvery, the lifeline of crores of people,” he asked.

    “The Krishna and the Cauvery are the lifeline of the state. I have offered prayers to mother Cauvery for good rainfall. Offering prayers to rivers is part of our tradition,” he said.

    “Chief Minister Siddaramaiah does not believe in Parjanya homa and japa and termed it a superstitious belief. Doesn’t his wife offer prayers at temples? Has he not benefited from it?” Patil retorted.

    Though the visit was termed as private, the itinerary given to local elected representatives mentioned it as a government programme. MLA P M Narendraswamy, MLC Veena Acchaiah, Patil’s wife Asha Patil, Water Resources department principal secretary Rakesh Singh, officials Gurupadaswamy, Manjunath and Rangaswamy and Kodava Sahitya Academy President B S Thammaiah were present.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> State / DH News Service / Madikeri – June 05th, 2017

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    WildKaapi01KF03jun2017 Wild Kaapi, your morning coffee comes from certified estates that support gaurs, elephants and monkeys, along with Arabica beans

    Under the cool canopy of native trees in the Western Ghats, coffee bushes spread out, gleaming with red berries. In the early morning hours, if you are lucky, you may spot rare species like the Malabar grey hornbill, water snow flat butterfly or the Asian fairy bluebird among these shade-loving plants. And now, thanks to the efforts of Wild Kaapi — the world’s first ‘certified wildlife-friendly’ coffee brand — you can ensure your morning brew comes from plantations that foster fauna on their lands. Started by wildlife conservationist, Krithi K Karanth — who has has been working in the Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot, for the last 19 years — and her husband, Avinash Sosale, the coffee brand got its certification this April and opened its doors to buyers last month.

    (photo credit: Ramki Sreenivasan)

    (photo credit: Ramki Sreenivasan)

    Live and let live

    Wild Kaapi started as an offshoot of a three-year research project (part of a grant by the National Science Foundation to study coffee, areca and rubber plantations in the Western Ghats). Karanth, of the Centre for Wildlife Studies — with Paul Robbins of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr Ashwini Chhatre of University of Illinois — measured biodiversity, and studied labour practices and market dynamics of the farming areas.

    During the project, she interacted with over 1,000 planters in the three coffee growing areas of Karnataka — Kodagu, Chikmagalur, and Hassan — and realised how frustrated they were “because they weren’t getting value for their coffee due to the middlemen involved”. That’s when the idea for Wild Kaapi originated, and the duo is now exploring new ways to get a premium price for products that support wildlife. “This includes social enterprises that can contribute to conservation action. (After all) traditional wildlife conservation relies heavily on donors,” says Sosale, who quit a career in automotive business to be a part of the venture. “At this stage we have two commitments: we have told coffee growers we will pay them the highest price, and, with the profit we generate, we will build a conservation fund to award grants to young conservationists,” he adds.

    WildKaapi03KF03jun2017

    Animal tales

    Millennials are more discerning towards coffee, observes Sosale. “Today’s consumer is informed. Ethical and conscious consumption is what we want to tap into.” To qualify for certification, the coffee not only had to have a good cupping (tasting) score, but the plantation had to support a vast biodiversity. Of the more than 187 farms they audited (recording the species of birds, butterflies, mammals, amphibians and trees), only four made the cut: Agora (with 124 species), Bindiga (137), Hulikere (119) and Cornerstone (120). Wild Kaapi has named their single-origin Arabicas after the plantations they are sourced from.

    WildKaapi04KF03jun2017

    Shreedev Hulikere, a third-generation coffee grower with 60 acres in Chikmagalur, who is partnering with Wild Kaapi, says he wasn’t aware of the numerous wildlife species on their estate till now. “While my ancestors traditionally hunted, I’m a conservationist. I tell my labourers not to destroy any bird nests. I know that barbets nest here and they eat the borer worms that destroy coffee. Similarly, I’m not going to chase away the monkeys and civets that eat my coffee because I’m being compensated elsewhere. Just because a porcupine destroys a pepper creeper, I’m not going to hunt it down,” he says.

    Love thy neighbour

    The audit also revealed a few surprises. “We found frogs listed as endangered or threatened in the IUCN Red List (the world’s most comprehensive inventory of global conservation status) at these plantations,” says Karanth. The certification not only places their coffee in a premium space, but also paves the way for a new movement. “If you have wildlife-friendly practices, you can promote sustainable agriculture. We are trying to establish a new model — a profitable enterprise that also enables better livelihoods. This hasn’t been tried before; it’s a new way of thinking,” says Karanth.

    (photo credit: Ramki Sreenivasan)

    (photo credit: Ramki Sreenivasan)

    While their immediate goal is to prove that such a model is sustainable, Sosale is also mulling introducing coffee scrubs, soaps, candles and flavourings — all huge product lines in the international space. Moving into pepper and cardamom, which grow hand-in-hand with coffee, also holds much promise.

    Prices start at ₹390 for 250 gms.

    To know more, and buy the coffee, check out wildkaapi.com.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Life & Style> Homes and Gardens / by Bhumika K / June 02nd, 2017

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