Coffee growers to join Jan. 26 jatha in Bengaluru to seek MSP for their crop

Coffee growers from Kodagu, who are seeking minimum support price (MSP) for coffee, will join the farmers’ protest scheduled to be held in Bengaluru on January 26 against the Centre’s farm bills.

The coffee growers are seeking to draw attention to their predicament over coffee prices remaining stagnant for more than 20 years while the costs they incurred on labour and other agricultural inputs including fertilizers have increased manifold.

“One 50 kg bag of robusta coffee used to fetch ₹3,000 in the mid- and late nineties. The price has remained unchanged more than two decades later also” said Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) leader from Kodagu Manu Somaiah.

Coffee growers are putting up with the stagnant prices of coffee while shouldering the burden of rising costs of labour and other agricultural inputs, he said and sought to know why the State is refusing to extend MSP to coffee when neighbouring Kerala was extending the same to its growers.

“About a week ago, we held a meeting and decided to press for our demand for MSP for coffee”, said Mr. Somaiah. “When Kerala, which produces barely 20 per cent of the country’s coffee production, can extend MSP, why can’t Karnataka, which accounts for more than two-thirds of India’s coffee production do the same?”, he questioned.

He said their appeals for MSP are met with the standard reply that coffee was a commercial crop that is not entitled for support price. “But, when Kerala government can do it, what logical explanation can Karnataka government give?”, he asked.

The coffee growers of Kodagu have been at the receiving end of nature’s fury during the last three years when the region was struck by landslides and floods, causing widespread damage to the crop.

Mr. Somaiah recalled that the coffee growers were receiving remunerative prices when it was regulated by Coffee Board till the early nineties. But, it shifted to open market policy soon thereafter on the same promise that the present farm bills are assuring - that the farmers will earn more. But, it was not to be, he regretted adding that the prices are now determined by the trading in New York and London Stock Exchanges.

Mr. Somaiah said the coffee growers in Kodagu are also upset with the State government and Centre over the falling price of black pepper, which is grown as inter-crop. The price of black pepper had reached ₹900 per kg till the Centre started allowing imported pepper from Vietnam and other countries to flood the domestic market and bring down the prices to the level of ₹300 per kg, he lamented.

The coffee growers of Kodagu are joining forces with the farmers from the rest of the State, who are planning to gather in Bengaluru on January 26. The coffee growers from Kodagu will gather at Kutta on January 25 before leaving in about 150 vehicles towards Bengaluru. The coffee growers will hold demonstrations in Ponnampet and Gonikoppa before spending the night in Mandya and proceeding to Freedom Park in Bengaluru on January 26.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 10:24:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/coffee-growers-to-join-jan-26-jatha-in-bengaluru-to-seek-msp-for-their-crop/article33644465.ece

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