Agri Business

Coffee growers pitch for renewed thrust on research to boost yields

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on October 13, 2016

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Karnataka planters’ body favours separate body on the lines of Upasi Tea Research Foundation

Concerned over low and stagnating productivity levels, and dwindling area under the Arabicas, coffee growers in Karnataka — the largest producing State — are seeking a renewed thrust in research activity to boost yields.

Seeking to play an active role in such research, the Karnataka Planters Association (KPA), the apex body of coffee growers, has mooted a proposal to set up a separate body in the state on the lines of UPASI Tea Research Foundation.

“We want to have a separate research body for coffee in Karnataka like the UPASI TRF. We have approached the State government for funding such an initiative,” said Baba PS Bedi, Chairman, KPA. Karnataka accounts for 70 per cent of the 3.48 lakh tonnes of coffee produced in the country.

Speaking ahead of KPA’s annual conference, Bedi said the State-run Central Coffee Research Institute (CCRI) has not been able to meet the growers’ requirement of clonal planting material nor had come up with new high yielding or disease resistant varieties in the recent past. “In the current year, the CCRI distributed only 10,000 Robusta Clones in Chikmagalur and Hassan districts, which amounts to 20 acres of plant material and is grossly inadequate ... It is quite apparent that CCRI does not have the means at its disposal to propagate large number of clones/tissue culture plant material. Therefore, it is imperative that this research is outsourced as productivity levels are low, costs of production cannot be met and Arabica plantations are dwindling in number,” Bedi said.

KPA and UPASI have already made a proposal to the Karnataka government on setting up a facility for clonal propagation and tissue culture planting material at the latter’s research station in Koppa, Chikmagalur. Global majors such as Nestle, that have a major interest in coffee, would also be involved in the research efforts, Bedi added.

Backing KPA’s proposal on a separate research facility, Upasi President D Vinod Shivappa said a renewed thrust on research efforts was required to make coffee production sustainable.

Further, Bedi also said that KPA was concerned about dwindling Arabica plantations due to the high incidence of white stem borer, leaf rust and low productivity.

He said CCRI should consider import of Arabica varieties that are resistant to white stem borer, leaf rust and genetically proven to be high-yielders under the multi collaborative research project co-ordinated by the World Coffee Research organisation.

Exempt from GST

On the proposed GST regime, Bedi said if coffee is made taxable under GST, the input tax paid by the grower or agriculturist on inputs used or consumed by the agriculturist in growing this product should be allowed to be set-off.

The entire process of coffee growing up to the stage of its curing should be considered as an ‘intermediary stage’ of coffee production and exempted from the provisions of GST, the KPA chairman said.

‘Coffee’ seeds cannot be consumed till they are roasted and ground. Therefore, taxable event under GST should commence from the stage of its value addition that is when coffee is roasted and ground. “If a grower or agriculturist is not allowed to avail input tax credit, then there should be an exemption from GST on all inputs including fertilisers and chemicals used by an ‘agriculturist’,” Bedi added.

Published on October 13, 2016
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