Coffee output is set to fall below 3 lakh tonnes (lt) for the 2017-18 crop year ending September on account of decline in production of robustas in Karnataka and Kerala, the top two States producing the variety.
The harvest of robustas is almost complete and growers have witnessed a drop in output as high as 40 per cent in parts of the key producing regions of Kodagu, Chikamagaluru, Hassan and Wayanad.
“There appears to be a set backs for robustas this year. We expect average decline to be around 20 per cent over the earlier (post-blossom) estimates,” said Y Raghuramulu, Director-Research of the State-run Coffee Board. The Board, in its post-blossom estimates, had projected an output of 3.5 lt for 2017-18 with the robusta crop at 2.47 lt and arabicas at 1.03 lt.
Robustas account for 70 per cent of the India’s coffee output, while the milder variety Arabicas account for the rest.
Raghuramulu said the robusta crop has shrunk by around 25-30 per cent in some areas of Kodagu and Chikmagaluru, while in Wayanad, the decline is about 15-20 per cent. The production of arabicas was largely intact at over one lakh tonnes. “The Board is making an assessment of the crop and we expect the overall output this year to be between 2.9 and 3 lakh tonnes” Raghuramulu said.
The coffee trade, led by exporters, said the Coffee Board estimates are largely in line with their projections. However, the growers feel that the decline in robusta output is much lower than the initial expectations.
“In most of the regions growers have harvested only 40 per cent of the crop,” said Pramod HT, Chairman, Karnataka Planters Association. The impact of consecutive droughts and erratic rainfall last year has hurt the output, he adds.
Ramesh Rajah, President, Coffee Exporters Association, said the Board’s latest assessment of the crop at 2.9-3 lakh tonnes was largely in line with the trade estimates. “After bumper crops in the last two years, the robusta output this year was expected to decline. Growers in Southern Kodagu and Northern Wayanad have reported a major decline in output,” he said.
So far, the exports have been normal. Any impact of the decline in shipments is likely to be felt in the second quarter of the calendar year, Rajah said. Coffee shipments in the current calendar till February 27 stood at 60,117 tonnes (50,557 tonnes). “The crop is poor this year,” said Bose Mandanna, a large grower in Kodagu.
No rise in prices
However, the decline in output has not resulted in a higher price for the growers as the domestic coffee prices move in tandem with the international prices, which are volatile.
The planters want the government to step in to rescue the coffee growers. “We want the interest reduction, announced by the Karnataka government recently, extended to the growers,” said Pramod.
The State recently announced that farm loans up to ₹3 lakh will be provided at zero per cent interest and up to ₹10 lakh at 3 per cent interest through co-operative banks and societies.