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India's coffee sector eyes Rs 1,000 cr mechanisation

Press Trust Of India  |  Chennai/ Bangalore 

Faced with shortage of labour, India’s coffee industry is expected to make an investment of around Rs 1,000 crore in the next five years on mechanisation, players in the sector say.

The Karnataka Planters’ Association has put shortage and high cost of labour on top of the list of major constraints in the 12th five year plan (2012-2017) and said mechanisation would get priority going forward in the coffee sector. Karnataka accounts for some 70 per cent of the country’s coffee production.

KPA Chairman Marvin Rodrigues said on Wednesday: “We are looking at severe labour shortage in the long-term”.

“As far as mechanisation is concerned, we have recommended to the Coffee Board and the Ministry of Commerce for a Rs 300 crore (subsidy) package in the 12th five year plan for the coffee sector,” he told reporters here, ahead of 54th annual conference of the KPA, which would be addressed by Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Jyotiraditya Scindia, here tomorrow.

The MNREGA scheme, and younger generation’s growing migration to cities were cited as key reasons for the manpower crunch. Including the (recommended) subsidy component of Rs 300 crore, the industry is expected to make an investment close to Rs 1,000 crore on mechanisation in five years, Rodrigues said.

“Mechanisation of certain coffee estate operations is imperative considering the scarcity of labour prevailing in the plantations,” he said. KPA requested the Board to include step-up transformers, generators and green bean separators in the list of its mechanisation scheme.

Besides the labour issue, major constraints for the sector in the 12th plan include: decline in production and productivity, rise in cost of fertilisers and inputs, and stringent and expensive pollution control measures in the coffee industry. The focus during the period would be on mechanisation, research and development, re-planting, water augmentation, quality upgradation, pollution abatement measures and support for setting up quality evaluation labs.

The KPA has requested the Ministry to enhance the rate of subsidy and open the schemes to cover small, medium and large growers, cooperative and the corporate sector. It also sought substantial improvements on all the existing schemes like re-planting, water augmentation, quality upgradation, pollution abatement measures, coffee driers and eco pulpers and mechanisation.

First Published: Thu, September 27 2012. 00:00 IST