India is the world’s largest producer of coffee, a crop which has been cultivated in the country since as early as 1670. The Indian coffee industry produces about 10,000 metric tons of green beans annually from an area of 1.2 million hectares.
In 2011/12, India was ranked third in terms of production behind Brazil and Vietnam. In global export markets, India mainly exports Robusta varieties to Italy and Germany where it is used for blending with other origins due to its strong character.
– Coffee production in India is largely dependent on the southwest monsoons. The average yearly rainfall of four – eight inches (100 – 200 mm) is not only confined to the coffee growing areas, but also takes place over a very short duration.
– The yield varies considerably with region and season, ranging from 500 to 1500 kg per hectare on an average; however, it has been observed that some plantations produce as much as 3000 kg/ha annually. Also, in some cases, heavy showers in February and March in certain regions could give output exceeding 5000 kg/ha.
– Productivity in Indian coffee estates has increased steadily since the 1960s due to various factors such as proper agronomic practices, planting the right variety, use of fertilizers and pest management.
– The plantations have also adopted good agricultural practices for sustained productivity by means of occupational safety measures to protect plantation workers from injuries or deaths due to harvesting activities.
– According to the Indian Coffee Association (ICA), coffee production in India during 2003-04 stood at 1057 million kg compared with 941 million kg during 2002-03, registering a growth rate of 8%.
– Significant rise has been observed in yield per hectare mainly due to adoption of scientific cultivation methods together with increased investment in infrastructure facilities for specialized pre-processing and post processing facilities under public – private partnerships.
– Another major reason is the replacement of old plantations with high yielding varieties.
– Post-rainy season harvesting starts from October and continues till February. Coffee berries are harvested manually or mechanically by stripping the clusters of berries off the branch with the help of rubber strips without damaging other leaves. Yield per hectare varies considerably depending on climatic conditions, soil type, topography and care given during cultivation. However, it is generally agreed that coffee grown in Kerala state’s hilly areas produce more than 3000 kg/ha annually.
– India has about 40% of all Robusta coffee cultivable area; however, only about 10 % of its total production consists of Robusta beans (ICA Annual Report 2000). The country exports mainly low-quality Robusta beans to Italy and Germany where it is used in blends with other origins.
– The country’s most important market is the domestic one, where the per capita annual consumption of coffee has averaged about four kg since 1987. However, there has been a consistent yearly rise in demand over the last four years. In 2006/07, India produced 1056 million kg of coffee from 125 lakh hectares of land under plantations – a 15% increase over 2003/04 production levels.
– Robusta coffee yields have increased from 800 kg/ha in 1980 to 1800 kg/ha in 1998 while Arabica types yielded 500 kg/ha during 1980 and 900 kg/ha in 1998.
– Coffee plants are grown mainly between elevations of 300m and 1,500m above sea level in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states along with some parts of Orissa and West Bengal states. They have been categorized into two groups.