Kadagu, an administrative district in the state of Karnataka, India, is known for its eco-certified coffee, and the coffee farmers, in a bid to conserve the land they inherited and make better economic returns on profits, have decided to begin raising honeybees as beekeepers. Natural forest ecosystems cover 46 percent of the district, and after researching bees pollinating for Robusta coffee, the College of Forestry at Ponnampet, Kodagu revealed there was an increase in productivity with honeybees around the farms and forested areas.
“Kodagu honey has a premium in the market because it comes from the flowers of multiple species,” said R.N. Kencharaddi, assistant professor of agricultural entomology at the College of Forestry. “Honey collected from beekeeping in the coffee agro-forestry system can get the premium price.” Because various species can provide premium quality honey, there is further incentive for farmers to protect their landscape by ensuring productivity.
“This is how we are evolving into the concept of getting landscape labelling for produce from Kodagu’s coffee agroforestry systems — coffee, honey, pepper, and cardamom. Once we can get a brand presence for the Kodagu landscape, the farmers can market multiple produce. Depending on the prices, the farmer can move the appropriate produce to the market,” Kencharaddi continued.
Products derived from the landscape can also add value in the global market. Along with eco-certified coffee, labelling the Kodagu landscape can help benefit the district and its development. The main objective of landscape labelling is to provide benefits to the community instead of individual landowners. Landscape labelling proposes that managed rural landscapes that have valuable ecosystem services are awarded a landscape label. The label serves as a tool for securing payments for ecosystem services.
Since forests like Kodagu’s landscape provide ecosystem services and climate resilience, it’s considered essential to have the concept of payment for ecosystem services (PES). As per a PES report prepared by the College of Forestry, the district has been deemed a biodiversity micro-hotspot under the Western Ghats region. Biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and water regulation are the key ecosystem services from the Kodagu landscape. The more diverse a system is, the more resilient it is.
Carbon sequestration in particular can play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This can help reduce emissions from coal and natural gas power plants that serve as large stationary sources of carbon dioxide. The idea of promoting Kodagu’s produce while conserving the environment is bound to take off, and it’s all thanks to coffee and honey.
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