Output fall hits coffee-growers

Kalpetta, Kerala, Feb 28 | Updated: Feb 29 2008, 05:04am hrs
A sharp fall in coffee production has hit farmers in Kerala's Wayanad district as the harvesting season is drawing to a close in the state's major coffee belt. Better prices prevailing in the market for the crop has failed to bring cheer to coffee growers due to the slump in production and high input costs.

While the post blossom estimation of the Coffee Board anticipated the yield from the region as 47,500 tonne for Robusta and 75 tonne of Arabica, post-monsoon estimation say they would go down to 40,300 tonne and 25 tonne respectively. Heavy rains resulting in berry dropping and high incidence of afflictions like 'blackrot', 'stalkrot' and 'stump border' have caused the production fall, especially that of Robusta.

The post-monsoon estimation of the total coffee production of Kerala-Nelliyamapthy and parts of Travancore being the other coffee growing areas - are also estimated to be lower by about 8000 tonne from the post-blossom estimation, Coffee Board figures showed. Coffee growers in Wayanad fear that the actual fall in production would be 30 to 35%, higher than the Coffee Board's projections.

"Variations in rainfall and affliction of pests have seriously dented production this year, which could go down by 35 to 40% by end of the season," director of Wayanad Coffee Growers Association, D Venkitasubramanian, told PTI.