Even as the coffee-picking season is barely two weeks away, planters do not share the Coffee Board’s expectation of a record production this year.
Having witnessed a 40 per cent drop in rainfall during the pre-blossom period earlier this year, planters say this year’s coffee production would be a wee bit less than last year’s level of around 314,000 tonnes.
The Coffee Board has estimated a total of 325,300 tonnes for the current year, a growth of about 3.5 per cent over the last year. This includes 104,000 tonnes of arabica and 221,300 tonnes of robusta. However, Karnataka Planters’ Association (KPA) has pegged arabica output at 85,000 tonnes to 90,000 tonnes and robusta at 210,000 tonnes.
“We have witnessed about 40 per cent reduction in pre-blossom showers earlier this year in the major growing regions of Karnataka, which will have a negative impact on the final output. Additionally, there were incidences of white stem borer attack (a pest that attacks arabica coffee plants). More than anything else, this is an off year for arabica,” said Marvin Rodrigues, former chairman, KPA.
Major coffee growing regions in south Coorg in Karnataka, where arabica is grown, have seen patchy rainfall this year. The regions have also witnessed dry spell for longer duration. According to Rodrigues, things improved slightly of late thanks to rains in September, resulting in better bean development. Arabica harvest is expected to begin in parts of Karnataka by the second week of November, while robusta picking would begin by the end of December.
The flat production of coffee may not have any major impact on exports as India exports both domestic crop as well as imported beans after making significant value addition. During January-October 2012, India exported 280,623 tonnes as against 303,966 tonnes in the same period last year, showing a decline of 7.67 per cent. In value terms, exporters earned Rs 4,231 crore, marginally lower than last year’s Rs 4,239 crore. This year’s unit value realisation was Rs 1,50,764 a tonne, higher than last year’s Rs 1,39,456.