Bangalore, Jan 23: Indian coffee growers need to improve the quality of coffee beans to fetch higher premium in the international market, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Thursday.
“Growers need to improve the quality of coffee beans to compete and get higher premium in the overseas market, as about 70-75 percent of their produce is exported,” he said, after inaugurating the three-day India International Coffee Festival (IICF-2014) here.
India is the sixth largest producer (318,200 tonnes) and fifth largest exporter (306,983 tonnes) of coffee in the world.
As coffee in India is grown under shade and matured slowly to develop rich taste and aroma, the chief minister said the growers should capitalise on attributes of the beans to harvest high quality crop and market it innovatively at a premium.
“If large coffee estates are able to produce quality beans and get higher prices in export and domestic markets, even small growers who constitute the majority, should adopt better technology and marketing strategy to fetch higher prices,” he said.
As much as 98 percent (311,795 tonnes) of the coffee is produced in the three southern states, Karnataka accounted for 72 percent (230,225 tonnes), followed by Kerala with 64,200 tonnes and Tamil Nadu 17,700 tonnes in the previous fiscal (2012-13).
In terms of production area, out of 409,690 hectares of land covered by coffee plantations, 345,950 hectares are in south India, constituting over 84 percent, with Karnataka accounting for 229,658 hectares (56 percent) followed by Kerala with 84,948 hectares (21 percent) and Tamil Nadu 31,344 hectares (7.7 percent).
Referring to the nature of coffee cultivation in terms of weather, soil and seasonal factors, Siddaramaiah noted how erratic monsoon this fiscal had adversely impacted the production.
“Though production was estimated to be higher at the blossom stage, two months of harsh climate followed by five months of heavy rains in the coffee-growing regions across the Western Ghats during the monsoon season damaged plantations, especially Arabica variety,” he said.
While India’s tropical climate is not so conducive to grow coffee, especially in the southern peninsula, about a half a million growers are able to grow Arabica and Robusta variety of beans to compete with their counterparts in South America, Indonesia and Vietnam, which are blessed with moderate weather, regular rainfall and rich volcanic soil that leads to higher yields with better quality beans.
Observing that climate change and variation in rainfall patterns pose risk for coffee cultivation, which requires specific climatic conditions, the chief minister advised growers to avail the rainfall insurance scheme of the central government.
“As risk grows, it is advisable for coffee growers to subscribe to the insurance scheme to mitigate loss in case of excess rainfall or drought,” he told about 500 delegates participating in the biennial trade expo.
The chief minister also announced on the occasion that the state government would pay 25 percent of the insurance premium on behalf of small growers as the central government’s share is 50 percent.
“The growers must realise the risk of climate change and subscribe to the scheme as protection against vagaries of rainfall,” he noted.
Union Environment and Forests Minister M. Veerappa Moily, who hails from this state, International Coffee Organisation (ICO) executive director Roberio Oliveira Silva, commerce and industry additional secretary J.S. Deepak, Coffee Board chairman Jawaid Akhtar and India Coffee Trust president and leader planter Anil Kumar Bhandari also spoke on the occasion.