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The Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadri Hills, are well known for their rich and unique assemblage of flora and fauna. Norman Myers included the Western Ghats amongst the 25 biodiversity hot-spots identified in the world.

The Western Ghats extend from the Satpura Range in the north, go south past Goa, through Karnataka and into Kerala and Tamil Nadu end at Kanyakumari embracing Indian ocean. The major hill range starting from the north is the Sahyadhri (the benevolent mountains) range. This range is home to many hill stations like Matheran,Lonavala-Khandala, Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani,Amboli Ghat, Kudremukh and Kodagu. The range is called Sahyadri in northern Maharashtra and Sahya Parvatam in Kerala. The Biligiri ranges southeast of Mysore in Karnataka, meet the Shevaroys (Servarayan range) and Tirumala range farther east, linking the Western Ghats to the Eastern Ghats. In the south the range is known as the Nilagiri malai in Tamil Nadu.

The northern portion of the narrow coastal plain between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is known as the Konkan Coast or simply Konkan,the central portion is called Kanara and the southern portion is called Malabar region or the Malabar Coast. The foothill region east of the Ghats in Maharashtra is known as Desh, while the eastern foothills of central Karnataka state is known as Malanadu. The Biligirirangan Hills lies at the confluence of the Western and Eastern Ghats. WAPCO region under western Ghats covers twelve administrative districts of Kerala State.

 

Flora

As early as 1904 Hooker had drawn attention to the distinct flora of the Western Ghats, which he called the “Malabar” floristic region. The presence of Bambusae, Dipterocarpaceae, Guttiferae, Myristicaceae and Palmae (Arecaceae) has contributed to its distinctness. The various major vegetation types are tropical evergreen forests, moist deciduous forests, dry deciduous forests, scrub jungles, sholas, savannas including high rainfall savannas, peat bogs and Myristica swamps.

Four thousand species of flowering plants are known from the Western Ghats. The gymnosperm flora is represented by Cycas circinalis (Cycadales), Decussocarpus wallichianus (Coniferales) and Gnetum ula and G. contractum (Gnetales). Western Ghats receives an average of 3000 mm rainfall per annum and is a treasure house of exotic varieties of plants, a God given blessing to humanity. Exotic products of Western Ghats is carried to outside India through the Silk Route and Arabian Sea from ancient time onwards.

 

Fauna

The Western Ghats are home to thousands of animal species including at least 325 globally threatened species. Many are endemic species, especially in the amphibian and reptilian classes.

 

Farmer Initiatives

The Western Ghats of Kerala region is thickly populated and famous for exotic food crops, spices, herbs and medicinal plants. Heavy migration took place to Western Ghats region from the plains of Kerala since 1960s and the forest Flora and Fauna are under severe threat and extinction. The migrated settlers are engaged in farming and plantation crop production such as spices, coffee, tea, etc. has made the area to ecological destabilization though the area produces large volume of commercial crop required to meet better living.

The Western Ghats of Kerala region is comprised with thirteen administrative districts and is a store house of agriculture economy. However, the farming communities are poor and holding an average of 1 to 5 acres of land and intensive agriculture is practiced. 85% of the populations are poor and living with cultivation as means of livelihood.

Of late, several farmers suicide are reported from the region and to mitigate such unfortunate incidents AOFG India is organizing and setting up of farmer owned limited companies. The Farmer Companies are
1. Adimali Organic Agro Farming Pvt. Ltd.(AOAFP)
2. Kumily Organic Agro Farming Pvt. Ltd. (KOAFP)
3. Wayanad Organic Agro Farming Pvt. Ltd. (WOAFP)
4. Western Ghats Agricultural Products Processing Pvt. Ltd. (WAPCO)

8,500 farmers through the Farmer Producer Association are members to the company and holding company shares. The Limiteds are engaged in agricultural extension activities for quality production, procurement, value addition and marketing. The major crops are coffee, black pepper, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, fruits, and other minor spices.