The coffee sector in Karnataka, the largest producer of the bean crop, has suffered losses totalling ₹3,000 crore on account of the unprecedented rains that triggered flooding and landslides in key producing regions such as Kodagu and Chikmagalur recently, said growers.
Ahead of the annual event of the Karnataka Planters Association (apex body of growers in the State), Chairman H T Pramod said the heavy rains in August had hit many plantations in these districts, causing significant damage not only to the coffee, but also to other crops such as pepper, arecanut and paddy.
“We have estimated the loss and damage to coffee estates, crop and other coffee infrastructure to be ₹3,000 crore in Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur districts,” Pramod said. The Government should declare the affected areas in these district as National Calamity areas and announce a moratorium on recovery of all kinds of loans of affected growers for one year, he added.
The KPA sees the coffee crop loss for the 2018-19 crop year, starting October, at 30-40 per cent over last year’s 3.16 lakh tonnes on account of heavy rains in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. “We expect the losses to be higher than the Coffee Board’s estimates of 82,000 tonnes (26 per cent of last year’s crop),” Pramod said.
Faced with rising production costs, heavy crop loss and 12-year-low prices, the growers also urged the Government to come to their rescue by rescheduling their loans, besides expediting the release of subsidies to take up replanting of the arabica variety that has been hit by the white stem borer.
Total coffee sector outstandings stood at ₹5,999.83 crore as on March 31, 2018. “We urge the government to reduce interest rates on all crop loans to 0 per cent up to ₹10 lakh, 3 per cent up to ₹25 lakh and 6 per cent above ₹25 lakh,” Pramod said.