India's coffee production in 2011-12 season to decline by 10%

According to the latest Coffee Board data, production of the brew in the 2010-11 period is estimated at 2.99 lakh tonnes.

"A combination of untimely, insufficient, patchy and localised rain that was not uniformly distributed has resulted in an arabica blossom well below the potential," Karnataka Planters Association Chairman Sahadeva Balakrishna told PTI.

Similarly in the case of robusta with a severe constraint on water resources and availability of power, several plantations could not cover their normal irrigation schedules, which will affect the productivity, he said.

"Also as robusta is more sensitive to drought, delay in rainfall beyond the last week of March has affected the fruit setting. All this has led to multiple and sporadic blossoms and would result in a yield well below the harvested crop," he pointed out.

In the 2010-11 coffee year, India had a low arabica crop and this year there are expectations of a better harvest of around 90,000 tonnes, Balakrishna added.

However, with patchy blossom rain now the crop forecast is estimated at 80,000-90,000 tonnes, he said.

Robusta crop in the 2010-11 period was good and this year the output of the brew will be lower, but with insufficient blossom rains and irrigation problems it could be around 1,80,000 tonnes, he added.

"A concrete estimate of the total production can only be ascertained after the monsoons," Balakrishna said.

While monsoon is important for the size and taste of the berries (coffee), a key reason for reduction in output is the normal berry dropping during the monsoon.

Coffee Board officials also have a similar view on the output figures, according to them, the production in 2011-12 can go down by more than 10 per cent.

Arabica crop is expected to be normal, but the robusta crop this time will be less, they said.

Sharing similar concerns, All-India Coffee Exporter's Association President Ramesh Raja said that already the carry over stocks are low and with a lower output the exports could go down further.

"Export will be lean in the next six months of 2011 as well as the remaining nine months of the 2011-12 fiscal due to low carry over stocks," Raja said.

However, with an expected 10 per cent decline in output, the outbound shipments of the brew could go down further to around 10 per cent, he said.

"In the April-June quarter, we had good exports as the traders off-loaded their stocks due to the anticipated closing of the tax incentive scheme for exporters, the Duty Entitlement Pass Book scheme (DEPB)," he added.

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