Vol. XLIII No. 07 February 17, 2019

AIKS Delegation Meets Minister over Pressing Issues of Coffee Growers

A DELEGATION comprising Jitendra Chaudhary MP, K K Ragesh MP and other leaders of the AIKS met Suresh Prabhu, union minister for commerce and industry on February 10. He assured immediate intervention on the pressing issues of coffee growers in the country. The minister conveyed that a meeting of officers of coffee board, ministry officials and leaders of the small coffee growers sub committee affiliated to AIKS will be convened at the earliest. 

Highly volatile world market is the most important factor that goes against the interests of small growers. At present the average price of coffee beans is Rs 120 to 140 per kg for Robusta and Rs 180 to Rs 200 per kg for Arabica while the price of one kilogram of instant coffee powder is sold in the range of Rs 1,500 to Rs 8,000. 

99 per cent of coffee growers are small land holders who have an average of less than 10 hectares of land. These small holdings occupy around 75 per cent of the area under coffee and contribute around 70 per cent of the country’s production.

An all India convention of coffee growers was held at Bangalore on October 22, 2018, which urged the government of India to support social cooperatives of coffee growers to establish and own large scale modern instant coffee industry. 65 per cent of the coffee produced world over is converted into instant coffee powder. Few big companies namely BRU, Nestle, Hindustan Lever and Tata have monopoly over instant coffee market in India.

The following demand charter was handed over to the minister:

  • Government of India must withdraw its declaration of allowing 100 per cent FDI in agriculture and retail trade and contract farming.
  • Government of India and state (where coffee is grown) governments must extend budgetary support to social cooperatives of coffee growers to establish and own large scale instant coffee industry based on most advanced technology and ensure that the coffee board protects the interests of the primary producers and ensures quality coffee for the public.
  • Maintain prices at all levels that are remunerative to small scale producers while taking into account the interests of consumers. Improve market structures, including access to financial instruments, such as price-risk management schemes and price stabilisation fund.
  • Coffee board should promote co-operatives of coffee growers to trade their products in both domestic and world markets and the central /state governments support these co-operatives financially.
  • Stimulate the improvement of quality and productivity of Indian coffee through comprehensive plan for farm mechanisation, productivity enhancement, conservation of environment, and expansion of coffee area so that 10 per cent of the world coffee production is done in India.
  • Promote image of coffee to expand domestic market by encouraging increased consumption and market development.
  • Promote the contribution of coffee for poverty alleviation and to improve the living conditions of small holders.
  • Support the research and development of new technologies; explore ways to mitigate the effects of the rising costs of some key inputs in the production process including pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Ensure the environmental sustainability of coffee cultivation, including adaptation to and mitigation of the effects of climate change. Promote tree plantation in the coffee area.
  • Coffee board should help to improve infrastructure of coffee production and logistics in the coffee areas across the country.