With the increased demand for coffee, the Coffee Board has proposed to expand the area under coffee plantations by granting subsidy to planters and estates run by corporates as well cooperatives in traditional and non-traditional areas in various States.
Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of 54th annual conference of the Karnataka Planters’ Association (KPA) here on Thursday, M. Chandrashekar, Secretary, Coffee Board, Bangalore, said the board had proposed to the Centre to grant 40 per cent subsidy for planters owning less than 10 hectares, 30 per cent for planters/corporates and cooperatives owning estates more than 10 hectares and 50 per cent subsidy for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families owning less than 10 hectares in the 12th Plan period.
In the 11th Plan period, he said, re-plantation was taken up on 21,600 hectares in traditional coffee growing regions, while the area expanded by 24,000 hectares in non-traditional regions such as Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
In the 11th plan, the subsidy amount was 40, 30 and 25 per cent for planters holding less than two hectares, two to 10 hectares and above 10 hectares respectively. The demand for coffee has grown by 2.5 per cent while the production has increased by only 1 per cent over the years globally, Mr. Chandrashekar said.
There are 2.8 lakh growers in the country and the highest number of growers are in Kerala — 77,235, followed by Karnataka (69,452), and Tamil Nadu (16,269).
The Centre approved an outlay of Rs. 600 crore for the board’s activities during the 11th Plan period. But only Rs. 376 crore had been utilised owing to reduced subsidy component to various coffee development programmes, he said.
The total area under coffee in the country was 4.09 lakh hectares in 2011-12. The area under Arabica and Robusta is 2.01 lakh hectares and 2.08 lakh hectares, respectively.
The coffee plantations covered 2.29 lakh hectares in Karnataka, 84,948 hectares in Kerala, 31,344 hectares in Tamil Nadu, 58,600 hectares in non-traditional areas comprising Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and 5,140 hectares in northeastern States.
India is one of the major producing countries and ranks sixth in the world after Brazil, Columbia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico. With only about 2 per cent share in the global coffee area, India contributes about 4 per cent towards the world production and between 4 to 4.5 per cent of global coffee exports.
Noting labour problems in the sector, he said it provided employment opportunities to over five lakh workers in plantations and an equal numbers of indirect employment in processing and trade.
Addressing the conference, D. Hegde, president of United Planters’ Association of Southern India, said the plantation sector was hit by labour shortage and white stem borer disease.
KPA Chairman Marvin Rodrigues and UPASI Coffee Committee Chairman Vijayan P Rajes spoke.