Coorg is a rural region and most of its economy is based on forestry, agriculture and plantations. The economy of Coorg is primarily accredited to the production of coffee and additional plantation crops. Rice is among the other crops that are plants in the valleys of Coorg.
The coffee plantations became important to the district of Coorg in the 1900s, located on the sides of hills that are too steep on which to grow rice, while taking full advantage of the shade from the existing forests. These days, coffee is the major cash crop of the town of Coorg. The two most popular types of coffee that are grown in Coorg are Robusta and Arabica.
Recently, tourism has become a major contributor to the economy of Coorg. Eco-tourism like trekking tours and walking tours are a way for travelers to take full advantage of the buildings on the plantations that have been converted into homestays.
The mainstay in the economy of the district of Coorg is pepper, coffee and cardamom. Paddy is farmed once per year and the majority of the agriculture in Coorg is fed by rain. Horticultural products such as cardamom, bananas and oranges are inter-planted within the estates of coffee.
The topography of Coorg is well suited for coffee plantations which require high altitude and steep slopes. Coorg situated at a height of 3500 feet above sea level and ideally suited for coffee growing. Indian coffees are noted for their blue color, cleanness of beans and fine liquoring qualities. The coffee produced in Coorg is strong, rich and has a wonderful deep flavor which is sought after by connoisseurs worldwide. Coorg produces some of the Worlds best coffee . The varieties most poplar are Arabica and Robusta which come in different sub varieties. Arabica is grown at elevations between 3000 and 6000 feet whereas Robusta is grown at lower elevations. Arabica is characterized by smaller leaves & stem. Its taste is milder and is preferred for export purposes. Arabica is costlier and is generally used for blending. Robusta plants are comparatively larger with broader leaves and thicker stem. It makes for a stronger blend and requires very little maintenance. Arabica matures earlier but Robusta plants have a much lengthier life span when compared to Arabica.
Traditionally Coorg is known for other produce like cardamom, pepper, oranges & honey. A variety of trees like rosewood, teakwood, silver oak, firewood etc., are grown along with coffee. Coorg Cardamom is highly esteemed. Cardamom is the crop that gives the best returns. Cardamom harvesting can take up to five months.
Other crops such as arecanut, ginger, coconut and some spices are also cultivated in Coorg. Another environment friendly activity, which has become quite a contributor to the economy of the district of Coorg, is bee keeping.
Up until the mid-1990s, the Honey Valley estate in Coorg was the biggest producer of honey in India, producing more than six tones each year. However, since the native bees disappeared, the estate has stopped honey production and now focuses on ecologically growing cardamom, pepper and coffee.
The town of Coorg holds the highest per capita income for the entire state of Karnataka. Coorg provides around 30% of the coffee that is produced in India.
The coffee plants grown in Coorg can also be used as decoration and play an important part in the handi-craft industry of Kutta, which is a nearby township close to Nagarhole.
Many of the Coorg population join the Army. One can often see retired Army personnel engaged in all sorts of productive activities in and around Coorg. Coorg has produced some of the most decorated Generals. The economy of Coorg is fuelled by servicemen both retired and active.
What began as an experiment in the mid-1990s, when prices for coffee dropped, homestays at the plantation estates have quickly become a way for the people of Coorg to earn a supplemental income.