Planters’ unions in Karnataka are hopeful that the new legislation on coffee, expected to be tabled in the ongoing session of the Parliament, will usher in much-needed changes in the 80-year-old Coffee Act guiding the industry now. Karnataka is the biggest producer of coffee in India.
The Coffee (Promotion and Development) Bill, 2022, is aimed at promoting holistic development of the country’s coffee industry. It is expected to do away with the existing 80-year-old set of regulations on the commodity, focus on coffee research, domestic marketing of the commodity, creation of drought-tolerant, disease-resistant and better yielding varieties of coffee, among other things.
Planters’ unions told The Hindu that the new law should help focus on development of special and specialty coffee brands and blends and pay attention to a premium variety of coffee, Arabica.
Bose Mandanna, former Vice-Chairman, Coffee Board, and also the owner of Subramanya Estate at Sunticoppa, said that the old set of regulations have been around for too long while the industry has transformed.
All leading coffee associations, including Karnataka Planters’ Association, Coorg Coffee Association, Karnataka Growers’ Federation, United Planters’ Association of Southern India (Upasi), the apex body for plantations and other industry stakeholders, have already submitted their recommendations to the Coffee Board and Ministry of Commerce.
“A revised regulation with its holistic provisions aimed at promotion and development of the entire value chain of coffee and enabling ease of doing business is beneficial to all stakeholders and to the general public,’‘ said Shirish Vijayendra, former chairman, Karnataka Planters’ Association.
According to H.T. Pramod, former chairman KPA and Managing Director of Malnad Planters’ Coffee Curing Works, and also a planter from Chikkamagaluru, said, “We want to see more new varieties coming into plantations and expect better interaction and working together with planters and researchers.”
On the backburner
Another planter who does not want to be identified said, “Coffee Board, way back in the 1990s, under the leadership of the then chairman Lakshmi Venkatachalam, had prepared the draft of a replacement of the existing Coffee Act. It was a comprehensive draft done in three years. We submitted it to the Ministry of Commerce, but sadly, several governments sat over it in the last several decades.’‘