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Untimely rains delay coffee harvest in Karnataka, India; growers staring at crop loss

Last modified January 03, 2021 05:51

Untimely rains delay coffee harvest in Karnataka; growers staring at crop loss by Mahesh Kulkarni, DHNS, Bengaluru, JAN 01 2021, 20:08 ISTUPDATED: JAN 02 2021, 08:03 IST

Coffee growers

Coffee planters across growing regions of Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Hassan are staring at a loss of production this season due to off-season rains in November and December causing a delay in the harvesting of the crop.

The planters are also facing an acute shortage of labour to pluck beans as nearly 50% of the workers that come from north-eastern states have not arrived yet due to spread of coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the growers are staring at a reduction in the production of Arabica parchment (premium washed coffee) and lower realisations. Early ripening of Robusta crops has also added to the woes as there are not enough workers to be deployed for the harvesting operations.

“Off-season rains in November and December have not only led to delay in harvest. Usually, the coffee crop needs two to three months of dry period post-monsoon or else it will lead to the splitting of beans. It will also lead to a decline in parchment,” Bose Mandanna, a grower from Kodagu and former vice chairman of Coffee Board said.

Currently, prices of Arabica parchment are ruling at Rs 10,500 per bag, while cherries fetch Rs 4,000 per bag at the farm gate level.

The growers are also facing a problem with the drying of beans due to lack of sunlight. The drying process is taking an unusual 10-12 days this year as against 5-6 days, thereby resulting in a further delay in dispatching the stocks to cure centres, he said.

Exports drop 12%

Meanwhile, India's coffee exports have dropped 12% to 3.06 lakh tonnes in calendar 2020 (till December 28) following a sharp drop in demand across European markets that were shut down after the imposition of lockdowns to fight Covid-19 pandemic.

According to data available with the Coffee Board, export earnings were lower by 9.9% to $708 million as against $786 million in the previous year. In rupee terms, exporters earned Rs 5,249 crore compared to Rs 5,527 crore in the previous year.a marginal decline of 5% year-on-year.

The unit value realisation stood at Rs 1,71,517 per tonne during the year as against Rs 1,59,260 per tonne in 2019, a rise of 7.7% year-on-year

“Decline in exports was more or less in line with our expectations. At the beginning of the year, we had projected around 10% drop in exports as adverse weather conditions caused a decline in production over the last two years,” Ramesh Rajah, President, Coffee Exporters Association of India told DH. The shipments were delayed partly due to lockdowns across European markets. About 2-3% drop in exports could be attributed to drop in demand following lockdowns across many markets, he said.

Rajah said the outlook for 2021 looks to be better because of a fairly higher crop this year. The coffee output is pegged between 310,000 tonnes and 330,000 tonnes, according to trade estimates. However, exports are likely to remain subdued during during the first few months owing to continued lockdowns in European countries due to the second wave of coronavirus, he added.

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