India to see good coffee output this year: planters

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If rains do not play spoilsport, India’s coffee production this year will be in the range of 3,20,000 tonnes to 340,000 tonnes, according to planters.

This is far better than the last two flood-hit years, when production was way below 3,00,000 tonnes.

As of now, coffee plantations have received only 30% of the rain, including the blossom showers in March and the showers in the following months. Rainfall during August and September will be the deciding factor as excessive rains can lead to floods, landslides, wet-footing (coffee plants standing in water and decaying) and berry-shedding.

“This year’s crop is expected to be much better than last two years,” said Bose Mandanna, a major planter in Kodagu and a former Coffee Board member.

“We have received some rain at the time of spike formation and flowering. Another 50-60% of well-distributed rains are needed for best berry development, spring cultivation and recharging of water tables. If all goes well we will have a bigger crop this year.’’

Ramesh Rajah, President, Coffee Exporters Association said, “The next two to three months will decide the future. We can’t afford to face another year of huge losses.’’

Due to excessive rains, flooding and water logging, the country’s coffee production was below the annual average of 300,000 tonnes in 2018 and 2019. In the current crop year, the planters expect a 40% increase in coffee production, with Robusta at 2,40,000 tonnes and Arabica at around 100,000 tonnes. The Coffee Board’s crop estimate will come out in September/post-monsoon.

Meanwhile, the labour shortage has become even more acute as a large population of workers returned home in the wake of the pandemic.

“We need to have more workers returning by harvest time in December. Labour situation has always been bad and Covid-19 has made it worse. Due to shortage of labour a lot of our operations are on hold,’’ said KPA chairman Shirish Vijayendra.

Harvesting of Arabica will commence in December, while Robusta harvest will be spread across January and February.

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