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Coffee Board to seek higher subsidy for growers

IANS  |  Bengaluru 

Coffee Board will soon urge the central to increase subsidy on lift-irrigation equipment to 80 per cent from 25 per cent for growers to harvest water for plantations, said the board's chairman.

"The board will soon recommend to the 80 per cent subsidy to coffee growers, same as given to agriculture and horticulture farmers for buying agri-equipment," Coffee Board Chairman M.S. Boje Gowda told reporters here on Wednesday.

Gowda, 67, a veteran coffee grower from Chikkamagalur district in Karnataka's Malnad region, about 250 km from Bengaluru, is the first non-executive chairman of the statutory Coffee Board under the Union Commerce Ministry.

As coffee plantations are rain-dependent for growing and blossoming in time, consecutive drought over the last two-three years has severely affected coffee production in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu where the berries are grown.

"A steady decline in the annual rainfall in the three coffee-growing southern states over the last 10 years due to climate change and global warming has disrupted the plantation sector, with lower production in the absence of enough water bodies or tanks to store and harvest it," lamented Gowda.

According to Met Office data, rainfall in the state's coffee-growing areas across the Western Ghats declined 40 per cent from 100-120 inches per year to 50-60 inches over the last year, resulting in lower production and less ground water.

"My first priority is to get 55 per cent more subsidy to our small and large growers so that they can buy equipment to build tanks and ponds to store excess rain water during the monsoons and revive water bodies for steady supply of water to the plants in the event of less rainfall," reiterated Gowda.

As a third-generation planter, Gowda has about 200-acre coffee estate in Chikkamagalur district, on which he grows about 80-90 tonnes of Arabica variety of beans for export markets.

"My other priority is to increase production in quantity as well as yield per acre to over 6 lakh tonnes per annum in the coffee plantation sector across the three states from around 3 lakh tonnes, as mandated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to double the income of growers and others in the value chain," asserted Gowda.

According to the board's data, the post-monsoon crop declined 3,300 tonnes to 316,700 tonnes from post-blossom estimate of 320,000 tonnes in 2016-17, with Arabica berry accounting for 96,200 tonnes and Robusta for 220,500 tonnes. Arabica production declined by 3,800 tonnes (3.8 per cent) while Robusta increased by 500 tonnes.

"Though the south-west monsoon (June-September 2016) was weak and deficit in most of the coffee-growing areas, the fruit drop was minimal, which was attributed to the decline in the post-monsoon estimate," said the Board.

The reduction of 3,045 tonnes in post-monsoon estimate has come from Karnataka followed by Tamil Nadu with 1,000 tonne, while Kerala reported a marginal increase of 850 tonne.

The post-monsoon estimate of 2016-17 showed an overall decline of 31,300 tonnes, comprising 7,300 tonnes Arabica and 24,000 tonnes Robusta.

"The reason for reduction in production estimates of 2016-17 is attributed to the delayed blossom and backing showers coupled with high temperatures," added the Board.

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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