Coffee growers from Karnataka, which accounts for 70 per cent of India’s coffee output, have sought a subsidy package of Rs 300 crore from the central government for mechanisation during the 12th Plan period (2012-17). During the 11th Plan period, the government had allocated Rs 50 crore in the fifth year of the Plan, while only Rs 22 crore of that was released to the beneficiaries.
“There is a need to undertake massive mechanisation in the coffee plantations as there is a huge shortage of labour. We have submitted our proposal to the government through the Coffee Board and there are positive responses from the government for allocating a higher amount for mechanisation. However, the final sanction is yet to come from the Plan panel,” Marvin Rodrigues, chairman, Karnataka Planters’ Association (KPA) said here on Wednesday.
The cost of labour in the coffee plantation sector has increased manifold in the recent years. Presently, the plantations pay Rs 190 per day, a seven-time increase over that of Rs 27 per day paid in 1994. Also, there is an acute shortage of labour and the plantations manage to bring temporary workers from the northern districts of the state during the plucking season.
He said the coffee planters (small, medium, big and corporates) are planning to invest an estimated Rs 1,000 crore for mechanisation during the next five years. The industry is seeking only about 30 per cent of this amount as subsidy.
India’s coffee production for 2011-12 was 314,000 tonnes. For the current year, the Coffee Board has estimated four per cent rise in output at 325,300 tonnes.