African snails feast on coffee beans leaving growers in despair

Somwarpet: With slimy African snails crawling all over the coffee estates in Hundli, Bellaralli and Shanivarasanthe, the coffee growers are sulking silently.

These slimy snails are lavishly feasting on coffee leaves and beans, leaving the growers of the region in a fix.

It is over the last three years that the growers are facing the problems with thousands of African snails invading the plantations during the rainy season. Nobody has an idea as to where they have come from. All of 500 hectares have been lost due to this menace in Shanivarasanthe alone. The growers say that if the snails are not destroyed they will spread to other pockets in the district as well, hitting the coffee industry.

Left with no options, coffee growers self help groups (SHGs) in Hundli symbolically launched a scheme, `Catch and kill’. Under the scheme, coffee growers association offered Rs four per kg of snails caught by labourers and growers.

The programme became a success as hundreds of growers with labourers caught thousands of Kgs of snails. Shanivarasanthe primary agriculture credit co operative society and another society offered Rs 10,000 each to coffee growers association and growers’ association themselves raised Rs 50,000 in order to destroy snails. What is done with these thousands of snails is anybody’s guess. The caught African snails are given a decent burial. Coffee board officer Muralidhar is not content with the decent burial. He says the burial pits should be packed with pesticides in order to ensure that snails are totally destroyed.

Kodagu district produces about one lakh tonnes of coffee annually accounting more than 30 percent of country’s production. India’s total coffee production was 3.45 lakh tonnes in previous fiscal.

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