Cover Story

From Bean to Cup

The Coffee Board of India serves as the friend, philosopher and guide to the coffee sector in the country covering the entire value chain

20150315eh97

The saga of Indian coffee began on a humble note, with planting of ‘Seven seeds’ of ‘Mocha’ during 1600 AD by the legendary holy saint Baba Budan, in the courtyard of his hermitage on ‘Baba Budan Giris’ in Karnataka. For quite a considerable period, the plants remained as a garden curiosity and spread slowly as back yard plantings. It was during 18th century that the commercial plantations of coffee were started, thanks to the success of British entrepreneurs in conquering the hostile forest terrain in south India. Since then, Indian coffee industry has made rapid strides and earned a distinct identity in the coffee map of the world.

The Coffee Board

During 1940s, the coffee industry in India was in a desperate state due to the World War II resulting in very low prices and ravages of pests and diseases. At this time, the Government of India established the Coffee Board through a constitutional act – Coffee Act VII of 1942 – under the administrative control of the ministry of commerce and industry. The Board comprises 33 members including the chairman, who is the chief executive and appointed by the Government of India. The remaining 32 members represent the various interests such as coffee growing industry, coffee trade interests, curing establishments, interests of labour and consumers, representatives of governments of the principal coffee growing states and members of Parliament.

After pooling was discontinued in 1996, Coffee Board serves as the friend, philosopher and guide to the coffee sector covering the entire value chain. The core activities are primarily directed towards research & development, transfer of technology, quality improvement, extending development support to growing sector, promotion of coffee in export and domestic markets. The activities of the Board are broadly aimed at (i) enhancement of production, productivity and quality; (ii) export promotion for achieving higher value returns for Indian coffee and (iii) supporting development of the domestic market.

Research and export promotion

20150315eh98Organised research in coffee was initiated during 1925 by the erstwhile Mysore Government by setting up the Mysore Coffee Experiment Station near Balehonnur in Chikmagalur district. After formation of the Coffee Board, the research station was brought under its administrative control. Presently the Research Department of the Board with its headquarters at the Central Coffee Research Institute and five regional stations has a sanctioned strength of 113 scientific personnel and is involved in development of improved varieties with tolerance to major pests and diseases and standardisation of technology for improving production, productivity and quality.

After liberalisation in 1996, the marketing functions were deregulated. The Coffee Board plays the role of facilitator and promoter of Indian coffee exports. However, registration of exporters is the responsibility of the Coffee Board. Under the Export Promotion scheme, exports of value added coffees in retail packs and export of coffee to high value far-off destinations are incentivised to offset the transaction costs to some extent and enable the Indian exporters to be competitive in the export market. These incentives provide opportunities to expand the footprint of Indian Coffee in higher value destinations like USA, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc on one hand and reinforcing presence in traditional markets i.e., European Union/ Russia and CIS etc.

Besides, the Board regularly participates in leading coffee trade shows/ exhibitions held in major consuming countries to promote awareness about quality of Indian coffee to the overseas roasters, traders and consumers. The Board also conducts Flavour of India – The Fine Cup competitions to select fine coffees and expose them to the export market. It also promotes coffee consumption in the country through 12 India Coffee Houses located in major cities across the country.

In India, coffee is traditionally grown in the Western Ghats spread over Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Coffee cultivation is also being expanding rapidly in the nontraditional areas of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha as well as in the North East states. Coffee is predominantly an export oriented commodity and 65 per cent to 70per cent of coffee produced in the country is exported while the rest is consumed within the country. Indian coffee industry earns a foreign exchange to the tune of about Rs 4000 crore. In the international market, Indian coffees earn a high premium, particularly Indian Robusta which is highly preferred for its good blending quality. Arabica Coffee from India is also well received in the international market.

Arabica is a mild coffee, but the beans being more aromatic, it has higher market value compared to Robusta beans. On the other hand Robusta has more strength and is, therefore, used in making various blends. India is the only country that grows all of its coffee under shade. Typically mild and not too acidic, these coffees possess an exotic full-bodied taste and a fine aroma.

India cultivates all of its coffee under a well-defined two-tier mixed shade canopy, comprising evergreen leguminous trees. Nearly 50 different types of shade trees are found in coffee plantations. Shade trees prevent soil erosion on a sloping terrain; they enrich the soil by recycling nutrients from deeper layers, protect the coffee plant from seasonal fluctuations in temperature, and play host to diverse flora and fauna.

Coffee plantations in India are essential spice worlds too: a wide variety of spices and fruit crops like pepper, cardamom, vanilla, orange and banana grow alongside coffee plants.

Training courses in coffee culture and management

The Central Coffee Research Institute, popularly known as CCRI, has grown as an internationally recognised, state-of-the-art research centre for carrying out research on all aspects of coffee cultivation. CCRI is committed to introducing emerging technologies and sustainable package of practices to benefit the coffee farmers. It plays an important role in the development and growth of the coffee agricultural sector. CCRI has 133 dedicated scientists working for the development of newer technologies in close association with a number of international institutes, reputed national institutes and pure science and agricultural universities.

The CCRI, apart from the development of new technologies, is involved in imparting training on scientific coffee cultivation to the benefit of all the stakeholders since 1953. The institute is recognised as an international centre of excellence for training in coffee culture by the FAO, Rome. Candidates from several coffee growing countries are being sponsored for these training programmers by the world organisations like UNDP, FAO or by their respective countries.

Production Of Coffee In Major States / Districts of
India (in Mts)
State / Disrict
Post Monsoon Estimation 2014-15
Final Estimate 2013-14
Arabica
Robusta
Total
Arabica
Robusta
Total
Karnataka
Chikmagalur
38,300
41,335
79,635
38,250
30,640
68,890
Kodagu
18,855
1,04, 800
1,23,655
21,040
90,820
1,11,860
Hassan
18,850
14,200
33,050
19,150
11,200
30,350
Sub Total
76,005
1,60,335
2,36,340
78,440
1,32,660
2,11,100
Kerala
Wayanad
0
57,150
57,150
0
56,425
56,425
Travancore
900
7,400
8,300
900
6,700
7,600
Nelliyampathy
1,175
1,600
2,775
1,100
1,550
2,650
Sub Total
2,075
66,150
68,225
2,000
64,675
66,675
Tamil Nadu
Pulneys
7,500
375
7,875
6,975
325
7,300
Nilgiris
1,550
3,850
5,400
1,800
3,950
5,750
Shevroys (Salem)
3,400
50
3,450
3,875
50
3,025
Anamalais (Coimbatore)
900
500
1,400
1,300
500
1,800
Sub Total
13,350
4,775
18,125
13,950
4,825
18,775
Non Traditional Areas
Andhra Pradesh
7,490
60
7,550
7,250
70
7,320
Odisha
550
0
550
440
0
440
Sub Total
8,040
60
8,100
7,690
70
7,760
North Eastern Region
130
80
210
120
70
190
Grand Total (India)
99,600
2,31,400
3,31,000
1,02,200
2,02,300
3,04,500

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee regions of India

Anamalais (Tamil Nadu): Wildlife sanctuaries in this region are the abode of spotted leopards,while the plantations are home to fine, high-grown Arabicas, including the exotic Kents.
Araku valley (Andhra Pradesh): Home to colourful parrots, it is not unusual to see a flock of chattering red and green birds, darting through trees in this scenic valley.
Bababudangiris (Karnataka): Bababudan brought seven ‘magical’ beans from Yemen and planted them in the lofty hills of this region. Deer is often spotted, grazing alongside plantations abundant with full-bodied Arabicas.
Biligiris (Karnataka/Tamil Nadu): Besides full-bodied Arabicas, this region is noted for the sambar – the largest Indian deer with huge antlers.
Brahmaputra: The mighty Brahmaputra which flows through the North Eastern states is the lifeline of this region which is home to the one-horned rhinoceros. This sturdy animal is found in large numbers at the Kaziranga National Park in eastern Assam.
Chikmagalur (Karnataka): Chikmagalur’s forests and wildlife sanctuaries are abundant with beautiful peacocks, India’s national bird. The peacock loves to show off its colourful feathers, especially during its elaborate courtship dance.
Coorg (Karnataka): Lush coffee plantations are bustling with honeybees which yield the delicious Coorg Honey, collected by nimble-footed tribals
Manjarabad (Karnataka): Gentle sloping terrain with small streams and coffee plants provide a natural habitat for the jungle fowl. This yellow-headed bird with a red comb and multi-coloured plumage is generally seen in pairs, close to the coffee plantations.
Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu): The plantations are home to fine, high-grown Arabicas, including the exotic Kents.
Pulneys (Tamil Nadu): A well-known feature of this region is the bright, bluebell-like Kurinji flower that makes a dramatic appearance, once in 12 years. The high-grown Arabicas however, are a predominant sight, year after year.
Sheveroys (Tamil Nadu): The magnificent Gaur or Indian bison is an embodiment of vigour and strength, much like the boldsized Arabicas grown here. This massive animal with its huge head and sturdy limbs grazes on the lower hill tracts of this picturesque region.
Travancore (Kerala): The national flower of India, the lotus symbolises purity and beauty. These bright, fragrant flowers with floating leaves and long stems, grow in shallow waters in this region noted for its Arabicas and Robustas.
Wayanad (Kerala): Wayanad is home to the Indian tiger, India’s national animal – a symbol of valour and courage.

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