Our Group of eight estates are situated in the district of ‘Kodagu’ (Coorg) in Karnataka State, South India. Coorg is a hilly plateau bounded on the west and south by the Western Ghats. It is situated between latitude North 11.55′ and 12.50′ and longitude east 75.25′ and 76.14′ covering an area of approximately 4,105 sq.kms. (1585 sq.miles). The average elevation of the upper plateau is 1,066 mtrs. (3500 feet).
The main crop grown in Coorg is coffee with citrus (Coorg mandarins) and pepper interplanted within. Rice is grown in all the valleys and also cardamom. Coffee is grown under natural jungle shade and pepper is grown to trees as standards. Cultivation of all the above crops is intensive.
Coffee has been grown in Coorg for well over 100 years. Coffee was first planted in the Nalknad area by Moplahs, but it was not until 1854 that the first plantation was opened in the Madikeri area.
In South Coorg, the first plantation was opened in 1857 in the Bamboo District, Pollibetta and by 1894 over 28,733 hectares was in bearing. Much of this coffee was opened by planters from Ceylon, where the coffee estates had been ravaged by severe attacks of leaf disease (Hemileia vastratrix). Unfortunately, the Ceylon planters had brought their practice of growing coffee without shade to South India and many of the early estates were wiped out by White-stem Borer (Xylotrechus quadripes). It was not until the Mysore practice of growing coffee under shade was introduced, that the estates made any headway.
In the 1890’s Coorg produced 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes of coffee per annum and average yields were in the range of 370 to 495 kgs/hectare. By 1870 Reverend G. Richter records in the Manual of Coorg that our Fairlands and Oaklands Estates owned by Mr.J.Wright of Edinburgh had 158 hectares planted with coffee. It is thought that some of the earliest Robusta planting was carried out on our Mylatpur Estate where the Arabica was replaced by Robusta as the former was wiped out by borer and ‘leaf disease’.
Choudicadoo, Fairlands, Toobenkolly, Banangala and Silpi Estates were purchased by the Corporation from the Elk Hill Coffee Estates, Ltd., Edinburgh on 30th January 1953. Raigode and Beetikadu Estates were acquired from the Executors of the late John Aird on 4th January, 1954. Mylatpur estate was purchased from Mrs. J.W. Whittekar on 4th March, 1958. Initially, these estates were run separately until amalgamation, which finally took place on 1st June, 1967.