Heavy rain and floods in Kodagu to affect India’s coffee production

Heavy rain and floods in Kodagu to affect India’s coffee production

Agency News

Madikeri, Karnataka, Sep 16: The coffee production in the country is likely to drop during 2018-2019 in the state as well as in the country due to excess of rain fall many parts of Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Hassan districts, which contributes 70 per cent of India’s coffee crop.

Coffee Board officials in Chikkamangaluru said that the plantation areas witnessed unprecedented rains and landslides and the crop was also affected due to black rot disease and bean droppings. “We have witnessed excess rainfall over the last few weeks days in all growing regions, which is 30-40 per cent higher than last year.

The official said the crop was likely to be lower this year, compared to 2017-18, when the production was to the tune of 3.16 lakh tonnes. ‘’Due to heavy rains, we have not been able to visit the plantations to make an assessment of the crop size this year. Once the rains subside, we will assess the situation and come out with our estimates for this year,” a Coffee Board official said.

Apart from heavy rains, coffee plantations across Kodagu have seen major destruction due to landslides, tree falling and disconnection of electricity connections. “We are unable to take up repair work due to incessant rains’’. Already, growers are affected by the drop in prices of Arabica and Robusta. The prices of Arabica parchment have come down by 25 per cent at Rs 6,700 per bag of 50 kg, compared with Rs 9,000 per bag last year.

Known as coffee land coffee plantations that once turned the entire Kodagu district into a complete feast for eyes have been devastated. It is said that over 4000 acres of coffee plantation have been destroyed in the recent calamity in the district and with this the state exchequer will be affected.

The other major commercial crop of the district, black pepper too has been lost. The pepper creepers are grown with the coffee as a mixed crop. With desperate situation prevailing in the district, the coffee curing and related industries too expected to face the consequence. The workers employed in the coffee sector are worried as there are possibilities of their sole source of income ending abruptly for a while.

Meanwhile the plea of coffee growers to the government to waive interest on loans taken by them has found support from the Coffee Board of India. In view of the natural calamity that hit Kodagu and other coffee-growing areas last month, the board has stated that the demands of coffee growers’ associations were justified. In a release, the board said that these associations have also been requesting rescheduling of payment on outstanding loans and reduction in the interest rate on coffee loans to 3 per cent for sums up to Rs 25 lakh and 6 per cent for more.

Expressing concern over the large-scale devastation in coffee growing areas, the Board said that in addition to crop loss due to heavy rains, severe landslips in Kodagu have affected around 1,500 hectares of land, according to preliminary damage assessment.

“The Coffee Board conducted a preliminary assessment of crop losses in all major zones through its extension and research teams during the third week of August, and based on it we have quantified the losses to coffee crop and sent [reports] to the Government of Karnataka and the Government of India,” a Board official said.

As already reported, the crop loss is estimated at 82,000 tonnes, with the highest loss in Karnataka, followed by Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In Kodagu, 36 Coffee Board personnel are engaged in assessment and survey. The board has said that the compensation paid under the Calamity Relief Fund through the State government under the National Disaster Management Plan would not be sufficient to cover the losses.

Meanwhile, a few local cultivators with small land holdings , which were affected by landslips, said it would take them not less than 15 years for the first harvest after redevelopment of land, and this was beyond their means.

They argued that the big growers with large land holdings could withstand the calamity as financial institutions would extend them loans given their repayment capacity. But banks will ignore small growers given the uncertainty, they said. Hence, many would prefer it if the government bought their devastated plantations for the market value of the land. (UNI)