Mr. Pangi Chittibabu, 41 years old, is a bold and enthusiastic man of Pangiguda village in the Araku Valley region of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh, India. He is poor and illiterate but has managed to raise a family of six members, including three children.
In 1994-1995, Chittibabu planted some coffee saplings supplied by the Coffee Board and Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) in a 2 acre plot. He devoted most of his time to tend to the saplings and took care of his coffee plants. He engaged in manuring and mulching, including bush management. But no matter how much he struggled, he would get very low price for her coffee and the local traders and middlemen were the only buyers in that region. Coffee farmers like Chittibabu had no bargaining power whatsoever.
A few years later, Chittibabu learnt that Naandi Foundation was working with tribals in Araku Valley region for improving livelihoods of poor farmers. He also learnt about the mutually aided cooperative society that Naandi had started and whose members were poor tribal farmers with small and marginal land holdings with little or no savings just like him. He joined the cooperative, which today, has more than 11,500 members from 589 villages of seven mandals covering a coffee growing area of 5,992 ha. In 2010-2011, his two acre plot produced 1,599 kg of coffee fruit that he sold for Rs 39, 795/-.
Today, there is a sense of pride and achievement, as he talks about the best farmer award he received at the Gems of Araku, 2012. The award means that among the different coffees cupped by the jury, his coffee was of the highest quality! Apart from the cash prize he has received at the event, he knows his coffee will also fetch him a bonus and fair-trade premium. Extremely thrilled with this recognition his eyes light up while talking about his future plans for the coffee he grows.