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Regenerative cultivation the way to grow India's coffee industry: Report

The report titled 'Regenerative Cultivation for Sustaining and Growing India's Coffee Industry' by Firefly Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, a company that works on soil health

Coffee, coffee beans

Photo: Bloomberg

Press Trust of India Bengaluru

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Environmental and economic concerns are two major challenges threatening India's coffee industry, according to a report released here on Monday.
The report titled 'Regenerative Cultivation for Sustaining and Growing India's Coffee Industry' by Firefly Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, a company that works on soil health and nutrition management, said regenerative agriculture aims to create harmony between the three pillars of sustainability -- economic, environmental and social.
The aim is to balance conservation and environmental sustainability alongside the commercial production of crops like coffee. An emphasis is placed on methods like agroforestry, reviving natural ecosystems and managing and replenishing soil health on coffee farms. It extends beyond merely sustaining soil and natural resources, to actively restoring and reviving agricultural land, it said.
Founder and Director of Firefly Life Sciences, Nandita Abreo, said, "Drastic changes in climate patterns over the past decade have adversely affected India's coffee production and crop quality.
"Coffee is a crop that is highly vulnerable to weather fluctuations. Therefore, sustaining coffee plantations will require an integration of climate-smart practices into cultivation. In countries like India where a majority of production is from small-holdings, adopting these practices is an urgent requirement to safeguard and augment farmers' livelihoods," she said.
Most of India's coffee production happens on small farms sized less than 10 hectares. Ninety per cent of cultivation takes place in the traditional areas -- the South Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Non-traditional growing areas include Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and regions in the North East, it was noted.
The dry spells between 2015-2017 and unseasonal heavy rains, floods and landslides between 2018-2022 dealt successive blows to Indian coffee growers. These extreme climatic conditions in 2022 lowered the anticipated coffee yield by an estimated 30-35 per cent, according to the report.
"The impacts of extreme climate events are worsened by coffee market volatility. Prices of coffee can fluctuate violently since they are connected to global markets. Cost of financing is one of the biggest challenges for the Indian coffee industry," Abreo said.
"High interest rates for loans are unviable for small-and-medium sized plantation owners that comprise the vast majority of India's coffee growers. They are unable to compete with coffees from other countries where interest rates are very low or almost negligible".
Several studies have indicated that the climate crisis is likely to deliver ongoing systemic shocks to production. By 2050, rising temperatures could halve the land suitable for coffee cultivation globally, the report claimed.
"In the context of coffee, regenerative cultivation entails a holistic land management approach that closes the nutrient cycle, promotes system diversity and builds better soil health. This benefits the entire coffee farming system - soil, coffee and associated plants, communities involved in cultivation and the surrounding environment," said Abreo.
She said while there are initial challenges in transitioning towards regenerative methods, it is key to making coffee plantations climate-resilient and self-sufficient, adding that by embracing innovation and sustainability, India's coffee growers can continue to produce some of the world's finest coffee beans while contributing to a healthier planet.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sep 25 2023 | 7:34 PM IST

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