Deficit pre-monsoon showers during March-May will affect the yield in Indian coffee, shrinking the output for the 2024-25 marketing season starting October, the US Department of Agriculture’s local India office has said. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) India has forecast a dip in output, while projecting a firm export demand and a growth in the domestic consumption.

Growers and coffee industry stakeholders also fear an adverse impact of the prolonged dry spell and higher than normal temperatures on the forthcoming crop.

FAS India has forecast the output at 6 million bags of 60 kg each as the fruit setting drops significantly in the major growing regions due to deficit pre-monsoon showers. Robusta bearing area is projected to increase by 1 per cent with yields expected to be lower by 2 per cent to 1,230 kg per hectare due to the poor pre-monsoon rain and dry weather. However, robusta crop yields remain well above the three-year and five-year average.

Firm export demand

The USDA post said India’s arabica bearing area is expected to be down by 1 per cent, with yields down 3 per cent to 402 kg per hectare, despite the crop entering its ‘on-year’ of the biennial production cycle. Production for 2024-25 is forecast at 6 million bags of 60 kg each. Arabica production is estimated at 1.4 million 60- kilogram bags (85,200 tonnes) while robusta is estimated at 4.6 million bags (2,73,000 tonnes).

The state-run Coffee Board in its initial estimates had projected an output 3.74 lakh tonnes(lt) for 2023-24, comprising of 1.13 lt of arabicas and 2.61 lt of robustas. The final estimates are yet to be declared.

The USDA India Post forecast the export demand to remain firm at 6.3 million bags of 60 kg each, while the domestic consumption is forecast to rise by 2 per cent to 1.3 million bags (79,200 tonnes), driven by the sales of soluble coffee for at-home consumption through e-commerce and retail channels.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the major coffee growing regions in Karnataka received excess rains between January and February, which were followed by drier conditions (44 per cent deficit rains) during pre-monsoon rains (blossom showers) that provided limited moisture. With the severity of high temperatures and absence of blossom showers, coffee output and yield during the next crop year is likely to be negatively affected, the India Post said. The blossom showers and backing rains are the most critical aspects that govern flowering and productivity in coffee.

Soaring mercury

KG Rajeev, Chairman, Karnataka Planters Association, said there would definitely be an impact of the soaring temperatures and the deficit pre-monsoon rain on the 2024-25 crop prospects. In addition to the prolonged drought, the flare up of white stem borer, which thrives in the dry weather conditions, is also likely to influence the arabica crop, he said.

BS Jayaram, former president of the Karnataka Growers Federation, said the higher temperatures has already impacted the coffee bushes in several areas which affect the output. Besides coffee, other inter crops such as pepper are also impacted due to the hot weather conditions, he said.

Farmgate prices of both arabica and robusta have risen by 13 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, from last month as tight global supplies was driving up the prices.