KOCHI: The United Planters’ Association of Southern India (UPASI) has made a representation to Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman about the problems confronting the coffee plantation sector and the issues that need immediate government attention.
The major demands include giving more attention to Arabica production given its larger potential in the export market, taking effective steps to increase coffee production in the country, sprucing up the functioning of Central Coffee Research Institute, earmarking funds for generic promotion and support for coffee processing sector.
“There has been a marked structural shift in Indian coffee production, from Arabica to Robusta, over the years. The area under Arabica cultivation declined from around 73 per cent in 1950-51 to 49.5 per cent in 2012-13. The production declined from 82 per cent in 1950-51 to 33.6 per cent in 2013-14. The rapid pace at which Arabica is being replaced by Robusta will continue, unless some drastic and decisive intervention is done. This is important since the traditional Arabica coffee cultivation practices had ensured protection of biodiversity and ecosystem in the ecologically-sensitive Western and Eastern Ghats, which needs to be reinstated through adequate incentive mechanism,” said Vijayan Rajes, president, UPASI.
The coffee sector is facing several other challenges such as escalating cost of inputs and inability to introduce large-scale mechanisation. The need of the hour is to improve productivity, he pointed out. “The Coffee Board and the Ministry of Commerce should take corrective measures by reorienting the Research Department so that it can focus on priority areas of research,” the representation stated.