Drought like conditions affecting coffee output in 2012-13

Drought like conditions affecting coffee output in 2012-13

Coffee production is expected to decline in 2012-13 crop year beginning October mainly due to poor monsoon rain in traditional growing areas of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

"With traditional coffee producing areas of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu facing deficient rainfall, there is a major flare-up of white stem borer (WSB), which is severely impacting output of the next coffee year," Karnataka Planters Association (KPA) Chairman Marvin Rodrigues told PTI.

The severity of the damage to the crop can be analysed totally in October-November during the start of the harvest, he added.

WSB is one of the most deadly pests that infects arabica coffee plantations in Asia and Africa. Its larvae bores into the plant's stem causing death of young plants. The older plants may survive but their yield is drastically reduced and susceptibility to diseases increases.

"That apart poor rains in November 2011-April 2012 period has also affected robusta plantations as irrigation has become a problem with depleted ground water reserves. The rains are important for the development of the beans and lack of it can result in smaller beans," Rodrigues said.

According to state-owned Coffee Board of India, output is pegged at 3.25 lakh tonnes in 2012-13 crop year (October- September), which includes 1.04 lakh tonnes of arabica and 2.21 lakh tonnes of robusta.

Echoing concerns, Former KPA Chairman Sahadev Balakrishnan said that almost all arabica areas are facing resurgence of WEB and poor rains have also affected robusta estates.

"Deficient rains are posing a problem in recharging of ground water reserves, rivers and springs that is leading to a problem in irrigation especially for robusta. That apart Karnataka is facing power crisis, which again is impacting irrigation," he pointed out.

The government-run Central Coffee Research Institute (CCRI) had issued an advisory to coffee growers in July stating that a survey has indicated the incidence of WSB is more in marginal areas where the elevation is low, rainfall is less and there is not enough lower canopy of shade.

"The affected plants are showing symptoms of wilting and yellowing because of depleted soil moisture and hence more number of affected plants are being noticed/identified easily now," it had said.

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