Mumbai: The country will invest Rs105 crore to replant coffee in more than 45,000ha by 2011-12 to increase productivity and meet rising domestic consumption, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Declining yield: A coffee plantation worker in Mysore, Karnataka, tends to coffee shrubs. Photograph: Hemant Mishra / Mint
“The replantation programme will help to increase the overall productivity levels to around 1,000kg a hectare,” said G.V. Krishna Rau, chairman of the government-run trade promotion body Coffee Board. The productivity has come down to 765kg a hectare in 2007-08 from 959kg in 2000-01.
Productivity had been affected by the outbreak of white stem borer disease from 2000-01 to 2004-05 and heavy rainfall during the last couple of years.
The board is planning to replant 40,000ha in the traditional areas like Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and 5,100ha in non-traditional areas such as Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
Coffee plant generally takes four-five years to be ready for bean production and has a life of 40-45 years, after which the yield starts reducing, making replantation necessary. Most of the existing arabica and robusta plantations were planted during the 1950s and many of them have crossed their prime yielding age, prompting replantation, Rau said. Each variety of coffee has a typical life span during which the yield from the bushes reach a maximum and thereafter starts declining even after best practices of farming are followed.
Arabica coffee is used in premium coffee, while robusta is typically blended with arabica beans for a lower-cost option for brewed coffee, or processed into instant coffee.
The replantation is also likely to meet rising domestic consumption and export demand, he said.
India’s coffee consumption is rising steadily due to better availability, promotional activities by the Coffee Board and a surge in out-of-home use, Rau said. “Consumption, which had all along been a south Indian phenomenon, has started showing signs of expansion in other areas as well.” South India accounts for more than three-fourths of the country’s total coffee consumption.
The overall objective of the domestic promotion campaign is to increase coffee consumption to 160,000 tonnes annually by 2017, he said.
Total consumption in India during 2007 was about 90,000 tonnes. However, per capita consumption is still low compared with developed countries. Per capita consumption in the US is 4.09kg, while that in the UK is 3.03kg and in Japan 3.41kg. In India, the per capital consumption is only about 80g.