Agri Business

‘India’s coffee crop could shrink 33%’

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on November 11, 2019 Published on November 11, 2019

Hit by extreme weather events of drought and floods during the year in the key producing State of Karnataka, India’s coffee crop for the 2019-20 season, starting October, could shrink by a third over last year, growers said.

“The heavy and continuous rain from August to October in the plantation districts of Chikmagalur, Kodagu and Hassan had caused landslides, floods, marooning and had washed away coffee plantations, damaging infrastructure and triggering berry droppings. According to preliminary estimates, production is expected to be down by at least 30-35 per cent,” said MB Ganapathy, Chairman, Karnataka Planters Association (KPA), on Monday.

Karnataka accounts for 70 per cent of the coffee produced in the country.

In 2018-19, coffee output stood at 3.19 lakh tonnes, comprising of 95,000 tonnes of arabica and 2.24 lakh tonnes of robusta, according to the Coffee Board.

Ganapathy said the arabica output could shrink further to around 70,000 tonnes this year. Apart from heavy rains, the flare-up in infestation of the dreaded white stem borer (WSB) in the early part of the year hit arabica plantations hard, hurting output. Moreover, the area under arabica has been dwindling by about a tenth a year, he said. Apart from coffee, growers have also suffered losses in pepper, grown as an inter crop, due to excess rain.

Ganapathy said crisis in the plantation sector intensified during the year as growers continue to reel under the impact of rising input costs, low prices and freak weather patterns, which hurt output.

“Rainfall across key regions was in excess of 50 per cent over normal,” said Shirish Vijayendra, Vice-Chairman, KPA, adding that the number of rainy days is getting reduced.

About 1,600 hectares of plantations were damaged by rains last year, while an equal area, is believed to have been impacted by the unprecedented rains this year. The formal assessment of the damage caused by the rains is yet to be complete and planters are seeking a compensation of ₹18 lakh per acre for the losses suffered.

“About 8-10 per cent of the total plantation area has been lost due to landslides and flooding witnessed in the past two years,” said AL RM Nagappan, President, The United Planters Association of South India.

“The losses suffered by coffee infrastructure and the revenue loss annot be recovered. While some relief has been provided for the crop loss, growers have not been compensated for the land loss,” said Ganapathy.

Theplantation sector has suffered two consecutive years of drought and two years of floods in the past four years. No major relief has been announced and Government has not come to the rescue, he said..

Ganapathy said the Centre should address the issues faced by the plantation sector, on which over 5 lakh people are dependent for their livelihoods, and come to their rescue to make the industry sustainable. Planters are also seeking waiver of interest on all outstanding coffee crop loans as on March 31, 2019.

Published on November 11, 2019
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