Kodagu: Supplyline hit, prices of coffee, spices to hit roof

BENGALURU: Shashikanth, a small farmer from Suntikoppa in Kodagu district, who had toiled hard day and night, had over 50 bags of Arabica coffee beans that could have fetched him over Rs 3 lakh. But the recent floods and landslides have washed his cash crop, his entire estate and, worse, his home. Not just Mr Shashikanth, over 10,000 families in scenic Kodagu have suffered a similar fate. Over 4 lakh labourers, who were dependent on coffee estates, too face a bleak future.

Rains, floods and landslides have damaged over 6,000 acres of coffee plantations in Kodagu, Hassan and Chikkamangaluru districts, estimated the Karnataka Grower's Federation. It will take not less than 10-12 years to bring coffee production back to its earlier levels, it said. Mr B.S. Jayaram, president, Karnataka Growers' Federation, said, “Karnataka accounts for 70 percent of coffee production in the country and over 4 lakh tonnes are exported. Compared to previous year's coffee shipment, which had crossed Rs 4,000 crore, this year we were expecting it to cross `5,000 crore. But floods and landslides just shattered our dreams.”

In North Kodagu, 90 percent of coffee estates have been damaged. The Coffee Board, which has started assessing the damage, will prepare the report by this weekend, Mr Jayaram said. Asked how long it would take for coffee production to return to normal, he said, “Arabica coffee plant takes 15 years to start production, while the lower variety, robusta plant, will need 10 to 12 years."

While majority of the coffee is exported, Mr Jayaram hinted that coffee prices might go up in the country. “Coffee is supplied to all the southern states and with the supply chain getting affected, there could be a hike in coffee prices in the coming days," he said. While the production of tea is very limited, Mr Jayaram said that supply of pepper and cardamom will also be affected.

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