Kerala

Coffee growers’ cup of woes brims over

Ripened coffee berries at a plantation in Wayanad.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Untimely rain during the harvesting season has left coffee farmers in the State in distress.

According to the post-blossom estimation of the Coffee Board, the total production of coffee in the State during the 2021-22 fiscal is 70,570 tonne, including 59,320 tonne from Wayanad, 8,550 tonne from Idukki district, and 2,700 tonne from Nelliampathy in Palakkad district.

But the growers said that the production might decline by more than 20% this season owing to the untimely rainfall pattern.

“Usually, we start our harvest by the first week of November, but we could not even start it by the end of the month owing to the untimely rain,” said Ali Ibran, a coffee grower at Mananthavady in the district.

Rampant berry drop owing to the rain in the past one month is the major concern of growers. “Nearly 15% to 20% of ripened beans on my plantation fell due to the rain,” Mr. Ibran, who is also a director board member of the Wayanad Coffee Growers’ Association (WCGA), said. Many regions such as Mananthavady got poor rainfall during the blooming stage of coffee, hence, the setting of coffee berries as also very low, he said.

The WCGA has estimated the loss at ₹56 crore in Wayanad district alone.

The Coffee Board has suggested preparation of parchment coffee and pulping the berries during the rainy days as a better option, but such facilities were far from the reach of small growers, said A. Chandran, a small-scale coffee grower at Pampadumpara in Idukki district.

Though the State Government had announced a minimum support price (MSP) of ₹90 for a kg of Robusta raw cherry in its 2021 budget, the agencies tasked with the purpose was yet to procure a single kilogram of coffee so far, Prasanth Rajesh, president, WCGA, said.

Shortage of workers

The dearth of workers, especially women, was a matter of concern of farmers in the district after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The inflow of labourers from Gundlupet and Coorg of Karnataka during the coffee harvesting season also decreased considerably this year owing to the pandemic, Mr. Rajesh said.

If the services of the workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme were extended to farming works such as coffee plucking, it would be of great help for the farming community, he said.


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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 4:38:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/coffee-growers-cup-of-woes-brims-over/article37797151.ece

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