We still remember the wonderful sight at coffee estate in coorg where they used to tie the branches of orange tree to protect from breaking due heavy load oranges . But days has gone now, Yes we are talking about “Coorg Oranges“. Once regarded as the pride of Kodagu, they are now facing extinction.
Coorg orange has global recognition and has attracted the attention of the customers at the global level due to its colour and taste.
Geographical Indications (GI) Registry granted a GI certificate for the crop as “Coorg Oranges“ .
Coorg oranges are greenish yellow and have a tight skin and a tangy taste unlike their better-known Nagpur counterpart, which is much sweeter with a loose skin.
In 1960s, oranges were grown in 50,000 to 60,000 hectare land. However, over the years, disease attacked orange plants. As a result, the land under orange cultivation was reduced to 3,000 to 4,000 hectares. After the price of coffee rised in the international market, orange estates have disappeared in Kodagu.
Coorg orange lost its vigour and the production declined drastically in the wake of a virus attack, rampant use of pesticides and fertilizers by coffee growers, and destruction of several natural species that were supplementing its growth.Each plant that once yielded 50 kg to 60 kg of oranges now produces only about 10 kg.
“The GI certificate has come at a time when the crop is on the verge of extinction. The certificate will be a very useful tool to motivate farmers to revive cultivation of Coorg oranges“
In Karnataka, the area under orange cultivation has shrunk from 12,000 hectares to 5,000 hectares. In Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur region, the hub of orange cultivation, the orange cultivation is on in 2,500 hectares. Kodagu orange farmers complained about the neglect of government towards their disease-hit orchards.
Dhal Singh, National Horticulture Board’s Member, blamed farmers for not taking sufficient care of their orchards.
“People in Karnataka grow oranges as a secondary crop with coffee plantations and they do not take intensive care of the crop. The diseases are hardly controlled,” he said.