Kerala is the second largest coffee producing state in India, contributing to over a fifth of the country’s total production and employing over 44,000 people. Wayanad, Travancore and Nelliampathi have high concentration of coffee plantations. They are also among the areas affected by the Kerala floods and the resulting landslides. Kerala is second only to Karnataka, which accounts for 70% of the country’s coffee production, most of it coming from Kodagu region. Kodagu also bore the brunt of Kerala floods.

Coffee plantations in Kerala

While Kerala accounts for 20.8% of India’s coffee production, Wayanad district in the north-eastern part of the state produces its largest share. Arabica and Robusta are the most common varieties, and about 80% of the produce is exported. Coffee came to India only in the 17th century, but has since established its own distinctiveness. It’s often tagged “Indian monsooned coffee". However, the extent to which the recent rains damaged the production is not yet known.

Small holdings

Kerala accounts for 19% of the total area under coffee plantation in the country. Wayanad, Travancore and Nelliampathi have 85,000 hectares under coffee plantation, roughly 2% of the state’s land area. However, it is distributed across 77,475 holdings, most of them less than 10 hectares. Kerala’s productivity measured by kg/hectare was around 774 in 2017-18. Karnataka’s Kodagu accounts for 25% of India’s coffee plantation, and has a productivity of 1,142 kg/ha.

Relatively higher labour productivity

Kerala’s land productivity might be lower, but its labour productivity is higher compared to Karnataka’s. It produces 1.48 tonnes of coffee per person employed compared to Karnataka’s 0.43 tonnes per person. In all, the state employs 44,200 people in its plantations. In other words, it accounts for a fifth of coffee production, while using just 7% of people who work in coffee plantations in the country.

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