Week-end planters: May their tribe increase
A new breed of Kodavas (Coorgs), known as ‘week-end planters’ have sprung up in Kodagu (Coorg).
These are the Kodava professionals working in cities like Mysore and Bangalore, a few hours drive from Kodagu.
During the week, they are busy in their offices pursuing their careers. In the week-ends, they take off to Kodagu to look up their ageing parents and tend to their coffee estates.
It is not an easy task to have one leg in Kodagu and another in Bangalore. Not with the kind of labour shorage in Kodagu. But still many manage to do the tight-rope walk. This involves the payment of exorbitant wages to the estate labourers. This may not be to the liking of resident planters who cannot match the money power of the week-end planters with deep pockets.
What has come in handy for the week-end planters is the emergence of new firms who contract to pick the raw coffee berry from the estates with their own labourers. This avoids the bother of week-end planters having to cart jeep loads of labourers from the ‘paisari’ labour settlements to pick the coffee berries.
Besides being week-end planters, some of the Bangalore-based professionals also have to practise their professions during the week-ends. This doctor from Bangalore, a cancer specialist, will have patients waiting for him at his residence in Balele when he visits Kodagu.
There are some week-end planters who have found it difficult to manage two shows simultaneously.
Prince Monnappa, a former Manager with Cognizant Technologies (in picture above), quit his well-paying job in Bangalore and moved to Kodagu three years ago. By deploying his managerial expertise on his farm, he became a ‘model farmer’. For his efforts, Monnappa was recently given an award for being a progressive farmer by the local farmers’ organization.
Besides raking in the extra money, it is a sort of stress-buster for the week-end planter to be in the green environs of a coffee estate. The fact that road conditions have improved between Bangalore and Kodagu, have made it comfortable to drive down to Kodagu.
There is another major advantage from being a week-end planter. There is no need for one to sell the estate merely for the sake of a career in the cities. As long as one can have the cake and eat it too, why worry