Kerehuckloo Estate was established in 1908 by C.S. Crawford, a Major in the British Army. It changed hands a couple of times before being purchased by the in 1972. We have been growing specialty shade-grown Arabica and Robusta coffee, black and white pepper, cardamom, and areca nut on our 350-acre farm ever since. We are located in the Chikmagalur District of the Western Ghats, close to the borders of the Bhadra forest reserve.
The story of Aghora began in 2013 when Ms. Rohini Rajgopal,(Daughter of Mr.H.B.Rajagopal) established an experimental 20 acre, organic Arabica plot in the farm. The experimental plot is situated at the peak of an Eastern facing hill, at an elevation of 1050 to 1100 m. We apply IMO certified organic manure as well as farmyard manure. Our farm is pesticide-free and weeding is done manually.
Starting in 2013 we were also part of a research study by the Wildlife Conservation Society that involved 187 Agro farms across the Western Ghats to examine bird and amphibian diversity across the Western Ghats. The Western Ghats are one of the top biodiversity hotspots of the world and most of the coffee grown in India is grown on farms that border the last few remaining forest reserves. The study revealed that coffee farms have higher bird density than other agroforests. Four of us farmers who are committed to following truly sustainable farming practices have started an initiative to promote conservation in coffee farms. The farms were chosen based on the cupping scores of our coffee as well as the Species Richness of our farms. Species richness is the number of different species represented in an ecological community, landscape or region. Kerehukloo was one of the first four farms in the world to receive a Wildlife Friendly Certification© through the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network.
The last audit done on the farm revealed that Kerehuckloo has one of the highest species richness of endemic trees and birds. The study revealed that there are more than 100 species of trees and 18 species of frogs recorded during just one season.
H.B. Rajagopal studied Agriculture at the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore. He moved to Kerehuckloo in 1972 and has since been growing coffee. He served as a member of the Coffee Board for many years and has also been on much technical evaluation and advisory boards for the Government of India. He was one of the first members who was involved in introducing the Specialty coffee movement in India. He has also served as chairman of the Spices Development Council of India. By combining the technical knowledge that he has gained with the conservation goals of the Ms. Rohini Rajgopal, our next generation, we aim, as the current caretakers of this rich and unique piece of land, to produce good coffee and maintain the biodiversity that has existed for countless years in this place that we call home.