Inaugurating the 49th annual conference of Karnataka Planters' Association, Ramesh said the coffee industry received only around Rs 300 crore in the Tenth Plan, but it has been more than doubled in the Eleventh Plan.
Replanting age-old coffee plants would be a major exercise in the Eleventh Plan. In addition, expansion of coffee cultivation into non-traditional areas would also be given focus during the Plan period. Ramesh said the coffee board has already taken efforts to develop coffee estates in a few naxal-infested pockets in Andhra Pradesh, where 60, 000 tribal farmers are producing around 4,000 tonne of organic coffee every year.
Another major issue to be addressed during the Eleventh Plan would be labour shortage in the coffee industry. Mechanisation of key coffee plantation operations is absolutely essential to overcome the problems due to labour shortage, he added. For this purpose, he said the Coffee Board has entered into an agreement with IIT Kharagpur to develop relevant cost-effective machineries for small coffee growers. The IIT Khargpur is the only IIT in the country having a department for agricultural engineering.
He also said that research programmes are inadequate in the coffee industry. It's high time to introduce more new coffee varieties suitable for long dry spells and drought in India.
Now the Coffee Board is introducing a new variety in coffee in December 2007 after a gap of 21 years. We already had talks with several institutions including MS Swaminathan Research Foundation to improve research in the coffee sector.