Coffee Cultivation in India


    In News

    • As per data, India’s arabica coffee production will drop by 30% and robusta by 20% this harvest season ending January.

    Major reason for this drop 

    • Excessive rainfall, 
    • Plant damage, 
    • Bean splitting and 
    • Berry dropping

    Coffee Cultivation 

    • Climatic Conditions:
      • Coffee plants require a hot and humid climate with temperatures ranging between 15°C and 28 °C and rainfall from 150 to 250 cm.
      • Frost, snowfall, high temperature above 30°C and strong sun shine is not good for coffee crops and is generally grown under shady trees.
      • Dry weather is necessary at the time of ripening of the berries.
      • Stagnant water is harmful and the crop is grown on hill slopes at elevations from 600 to 1,600 metres above sea level.
      • Well drained, loams containing a good deal of humus and minerals like iron and calcium are ideal for coffee cultivation.
    • Facts: 
      • Karnataka alone accounts for around 80% of the country’s total coffee production.
      • India currently has over three lakh small and medium coffee farmers.
      • India ranks 6th among the world’s 80 coffee producing countries, with some of the finest robusta and some top-notch arabica cultivated.
      • The cultivation is mainly done in the Southern States of India:
        • Karnataka – 54%
        • Kerala – 19%
        • Tamil Nadu – 8%

    Image Courtesy: Coffee BI 


    • Nearly 70% of India’s coffee is exported, largely to European and Asian markets.
    • Coffee in India is traditionally grown in the rainforests of the Western Ghats in South India, covering Chikmagalur, Kodagu (Coorg), Wayanad, the Shevaroy Hills and the Nilgiris.
    • India is the only country in the world where the entire coffee cultivation is grown under shade, hand-picked and sun dried.

    Challenges faced by coffee industry

    • Rising cost of production: 
      • The cost of coffee production has been rising 10%-15% annually as wage and input costs were on a constant rise. 
      • Over the last few decades the loss of forest cover has resulted in environmental degradation and costs of inputs such as fertiliser, labour wages, pesticides and fuel has drastically increased.
    • Diseases: 
      • Plant loss due to white-stem borer disease, the yield has also come down significantly.
    • Climate change:
      • Excessive rainfall played spoilsport for coffee plantations across the country. Because of early blossom showers in February, the crop was ready for harvest in October itself, instead of November. 
    • Shortage of skilled labour:
      • Coffee cultivation requires plenty of cheap and skilled labour for various operations including sowing, transplanting, and pruning, plucking, drying, grading and packing of coffee.
      • But in India there is an acute shortage of skilled plantation labour.
    • Stagnation in bulk coffee prices:
      • There is also stagnation in bulk coffee prices which has pushed the small growers who constitute 98% of coffee production to other avenues like coffee resorts, intercropping with pepper, etc.

    Blossom Showers

    • They are also called pre monsoon rains.
    • Blossom Showers occur mainly during the March- May months, i.e., before the arrival of monsoon into India. Therefore, they are also called the April Rains.
    • Blossom Showers in Kerala, help in the flowering of plantation crops like Coffee and Tea.

    GI Tags to different coffee varieties

    • Coorg Arabica coffee, grown specifically in the region of Kodagu district in Karnataka.
    • Wayanad Robusta coffee, grown specifically in the region of Wayanad district which is situated on the eastern portion of Kerala.
    • Chikmagalur Arabica coffee, grown specifically in the region of Chikmagalur district which is situated in the Deccan plateau, falling under the Malnad region of Karnataka.
    • Araku Valley Arabica coffee, can be described as coffee from the hilly tracks of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha region grown at an elevation of 900-1100m Mean Sea Level (MSL). This variety is produced by the tribals.
    • Baba budan giris Arabica coffee, grown specifically in the birthplace of coffee in India. The region is situated in the central portion of Chikmagalur district. Selectively hand-picked and processed by natural fermentation, the coffee cup exhibits acidity, mild flavour and striking aroma with a note of chocolate. This coffee is also called ‘high grown coffee’ as it slowly ripens in the mild climate thereby acquiring a special taste and aroma.
    • The Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee, a unique specialty coffee of India was given GI certification in 2018.

    Source: TH