Coffee Planters woes continue

Newindpress | SOMWARPET: Coffee, the lifeline of Kodagu district, is losing its shine slowly due to incessant rainfall and increased borer disease.

In the State, nearly three lakh people depend upon the industry. Somwarpet, the largest arabica coffee growing taluk in the country has also been suffering because of the borer disease. Six decades back, the Government set up the Coffee Board to monitor and help coffee growers but it has failed to do so.

With the liberalisation policy of the Union Government in 1995, the coffee industry came out of the clutches of Union Commerce Ministry. This enabled growers to sell their coffee in open market.

Before 1995, growers were getting just Rs 700 per 50 kg bag of Arabica parchment. Then, suddenly the price jumped to Rs 2,000 in open market. However, it took long time for growers to come out from financial difficulties. But the profit of growers was reduced due to three to four fold increase in the cost of manure, labour and pesticides.

Apart from this, the borer disease has been affecting Arabica. The life-span of a coffee plant is 50 to 70 years. If borer attacks, the plant has to be destroyed for ever.

Somwarpet legislator B A Jeevijaya himself have removed more than 70,000 plants in his estate due to borer disease.

Speaking to this website’s newspaper, Somwarpet Coffee Growers Association president B M Suresh told that growers were in distress due to incessant rainfall for the past four years. The recent reduction of VAT by State government from 12.5 per cent to four will be helpful for coffee consumers.

He said in Sri Lanka, Arabica coffee was wiped out four decades back due to borer disease. Now, only robusta variety which is free from borer disease is seen in Sri Lanka. He regretted that so far nobody has been able to give shape to a coffee lobby to draw the attention of the government to the problems of the coffee industry.

He said the Union commerce additional secretary will visit Chettalli Coffee Research Station on Thursday and will hold discussion with coffee growers to understand their problems. He said the current price of Rs 4,500 per 50 kg bag of arabica parchment is sufficient, but the government should announce packages such as loan waiver. The government should also announce a special package to revive arabica coffee.

He said Arabica plantation helps forestation which requires 200-300 trees per acre if growers switch over to robusta, deforestation will happen since robusta requires just 20-30 trees shade per acre. He hopes the Union Government will announce special package to revive the coffee industry.

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