Early rains brighten coffee crop prospects

Early rains brighten coffee crop prospects
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First Published: Fri, Jun 01 2007. 12 28 AM IST

In demand: Prices of the bitter-tasting robusta beans reached an eight-year high last week.
In demand: Prices of the bitter-tasting robusta beans reached an eight-year high last week.
Updated: Fri, Jun 01 2007. 12 28 AM IST
Mumbai: Coffee output in India, the world’s sixth-biggest producer, may rise 4% as early rains in the main growing areas boost yields.
The harvest that will start in October, could reach 300,000 tonnes, up from the 288,000 tonnes predicted this year by the Coffee Board, N. Bose Mandanna, a grower and former vice-chairman of the state-owned board, said in an interview on Wednesday, 30 May 2007.
The prospects for a bigger harvest comes as prices of the bitter-tasting robusta beans, used in instant coffee, reached an eight-year high last week partly on concern that growing demand may outpace supplies from Vietnam and Indonesia, the world’s biggest producers of the bean.
“Conditions are better this year for a bigger harvest,” Mandanna said on the telephone from Coorg in Karnataka, the country’s biggest coffee-growing state. “This is an ‘on year’ for coffee in India” or a period in the tree’s two-year cycle when yields rise, he said.
In demand: Prices of the bitter-tasting robusta beans reached an eight-year high last week.
Damage from rains ahead of harvest and crop losses by pest attacks prompted the Coffee Board to cut its forecast for this year to 288,000 lakh tonnes from an earlier estimate of 300,300 tonnes. Good pre-monsoon showers in Karnataka in April and May have improved prospects for next year’s crop.
Production of robusta beans may rise 19% to 225,000 tonnes and the milder-tasting arabica output may total 75,000 tonnes, Mandanna said. Robusta beans are usually blended with arabica by companies such as Nestle SA and Kraft Foods Inc. Arabica futures contract on the New York Board of Trade has gained 12.5% in the past year to $111.35 a pound.
Robusta futures fell 0.4% to $1,729 a tonne in London on Wednesday.
Still, late rains can damage the crop, lowering output. The country’s June-to-September rainy season will be 95% of the long-period average, a level considered normal, the weather office had said on 19 April.
The monsoon reached Kerala four days earlier than normal, the office had said on 28 May.
“The monsoon showers are crucial to how the crop shapes up and determines the overall size of production,” Coffee Board chairman, G.V. Krishna Rau, said in an interview on 24 April.
India’s coffee exports between October and May rose to 157,808 tonnes from 155,219 tonnes a year earlier, data on the Coffee Board’s website showed.
The Coffee Exporters’ Association of India says shipments may decline 13% this year, to 200,000 tonnes, on lower stockpiles and a rising rupee.
“We are becoming less competitive compared with Vietnam and Brazil, Mandanna said.
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First Published: Fri, Jun 01 2007. 12 28 AM IST
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