Flood Fury: More than 40 percent of coffee lost

Bengaluru:  Karnataka Planters’ Association (KPA) Chairman H.T. Pramod has said that there will be a shortfall of coffee production to the extent of 30 to 40 per cent in the State due to natural calamity in Karnataka and Kerala which are the main coffee-growing States in the country.

He said that though the Coffee Board had estimated the production at 3,16,000 tonnes, an increase of 4,000 tonnes against 2016-17, the KPA believes that the 2018-19 crop is expected to decline by 30 per cent to 40 per cent due to heavy rain and landslides witnessed in Kodagu, Hassan and Chikkamagalur districts of Karnataka.

“The devastation is deep in Kodagu, where the rainfall erased 116-year-old record in August and frequent landslides due to flood washed away thousands of hectares of Coffee estates,” he said. KPA is the apex plantation decision-making body in the State.

Pramod said that coffee plantations were damaged and this had affected plant growth, fruit setting and there were high incidents of stem and berry borer. The record rainfall has resulted in fruit drop and root rot.

Alleging that the Coffee Board has not permitted import of high-variety of seeds, Pramod added that coffee growing countries like Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam have high productivity in coffee and have come out with high-yielding varieties which are disease and drought-resistant.

“The Coffee Board is neither releasing new high-yielding and disease-resistant Arabica and Robusta varieties nor is it allowing planters to import seeds of high-yielding variety,” he said and urged the Union Government to declare the situation prevailing as national disaster as it may take 10 to 15 years to overcome.

He sought interest waiver on loans for heavy loss growers have incurred after floods. “Together with the Coffee Board, we have made a representation before the Ministry of Commerce asking for reduction of interest rates on all crop loans,” he said.

Coffee growers sought interest waiver on loans up to Rs.10 lakh to zero percent, up to Rs. 25 lakh to 3 percent per annum and above Rs.25 lakh to 6 percent per annum. KPA has also urged the Centre to declare a moratorium period of one year against recovery of all kinds of loans obtained by affected coffee growers.

“Most of the plantations have to be replanted and during the period, most of the growers will suffer huge losses. It is now important for the Government to come to the rescue of the coffee industry,” Pramod said.

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