Karnataka coffee growers disappointed with Union Budget not addressing industry woes

Growers in Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu, and Hassan said the coffee industry has been grappling with adverse conditions for the past few years, primarily attributed to climate change and a shortage of labour 

Updated - February 06, 2024 09:24 pm IST

Published - February 06, 2024 09:23 pm IST

Karnataka produces over 70% of India’s coffee, while most of the rest is produced by Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh

Karnataka produces over 70% of India’s coffee, while most of the rest is produced by Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh | Photo Credit: File Photo

Coffee growers in Karnataka, the leading coffee-producing State in India, are unhappy that the recently presented Union Budget did not provide any “relief” to them, despite the coffee industry grappling with adverse conditions for the past few years, primarily attributed to climate change and a shortage of labour.

Karnataka produces over 70% of India’s coffee, while most of the rest is produced by Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. “Over the last five years, coffee cultivators in Karnataka have faced significant challenges, particularly due to shifting rainfall patterns impacting our yields. There was considerable anticipation that the Budget would address the issues faced by the coffee industry. A majority of coffee growers in Kodagu are small-scale farmers with plantations covering less than 10 acres, and many find themselves burdened with substantial loans, facing pressure from banks for repayment under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002. Additionally, these growers have not been adequately provided with subsidies by the government,” said Roshan Thimayya, a coffee planter.

Coffee growers had anticipated a subsidy on the interest for the loans they have taken, given the low yields experienced over the past three years. “We were hopeful for a subsidy on loan interest due to the persistently low yield, escalating labour charges, the upkeep of coffee estates, and the adverse impact of rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns on coffee plantations. If it’s not feasible for the government to waive the loans, at least a reduction in interest rates would have provided significant relief,” said Raj Chengappa, a planter from Gonikoppal in Kodagu.

B.S. Jayaram, former president, Karnataka Coffee Growers’ Federation (KCGF), told The Hindu that coffee growers in 10 taluks across Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, and Hassan have been in distress since 2018. “These challenges include excessive rainfall, a shortage of labourers, and price fluctuations. Despite these issues, the government has not given due attention to the difficulties faced by coffee growers,” he said.

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