The slashing price for Robusta coffee and the dearth of workers are increasing the worries of coffee farmers in Wayanad district, a major coffee growing area in the State.
Owing to the shortage of women workers many of the coffee plantations could not finish the second phase of the coffee harvest and gleaning works of dropped berries.
The spot price of coffee of Robusta coffee cherry on Saturday in Meenangadi market was Rs.36-37 per kg against Rs.44 to Rs.46 per kg during the corresponding period last year. Whereas the price of Robusta coffee beans (cleaned coffee) was declined to Rs 62 to Rs.64 per kg against Rs.75 to Rs. 80 per kg during the corresponding period last year.
The main reason for the falling price of coffee is the high moisture content in the beans owing to the deficiency of proper drying of cherry coffee, Salu of Meenangadi Spices, a coffee dealer in Meenangadi told The Hindu.
The acceptable moisture content of coffee is 12.5 per cent but most of the coffee reached in the market with a moisture of 14 per cent or more than that during the season, he added. More over, the downward trend existed in the share market also affected the coffee future market and the slashing price is the reflection of it, he added.
Though the production of coffee has improved this year but the dearth of workers, especially the women workers, has augmented in the district after the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (MGNREGS).
Hemachandra Gowder, a coffee planter at Panamaram said, “After the implementation of MGNREGS the wages of the workers have doubled but the coffee production has not increased proportionately, he added. A.Venugopal,a middle class coffee planter at Vradoor said that the inflow of the labourers from Gundlepet and Coorg areas of Karnataka during the coffee harvesting season also decreased considerably this year. The input cost in coffee industry is increasing every day on the contrary the price of the coffee is declining day after day, he added.
Due to the dearth of workers I could not collect the dropped berries from my plantation this year so far, Mr. Venugopal said.
A woman worker would collect maximum 1 to 2 kg coffee berries per day and comparing to the market price of coffee the farmers will not get any thing from this business, he added.
Owing to the unexpected summer shower in January the berry drop had been increased considerably this year, he said.
While the post monsoon estimation of the Coffee Board coffee board anticipated the yield from the region as 49,950 tonnes for Robusta against the post blossom estimation 50,250 during 2009-10 period. The Board anticipated a total yield of 57,855 tone of Robusta coffee from the state, including Palakkad (1,275 tonnes) and Travancore regions (6,650 tonnes ), according to the Board’s Post monsoon estimation against the post blossom estimation of 58,175 tones ,Palakkad(1,275 tonnes ) and Travancore region (6650 tonnes).