Growers in distress as Coffee Board fails to get funds

The Ministry of Commerce has failed to release the 12th Five-Year Plan outlay to the Coffee Board for the last one and half years. As a result, hundreds of coffee growers, who had applied to the Board for financial assistance, are in distress.

The growers had taken up the work on replanting of coffee plants, extension of area under coffee cultivation, digging of wells and sinking of borewells, construction of coffee yard, godown, purchase of sprayer, weed remover, mini tractor and tiller thinking that they would get aid from the government. Now, they are running from pillar to post seeking help from the Coffee Board.

To expand the area under coffee cultivation and to promote the mechanisation, the 12th Five-Year Plan had earmared Rs 900 crore with Rs 200 crore being released every year. Only a meagre amount has been released so far.

In 2015-16, the Coffee Board did not get any amount from the government. As a result, the growers in Chikkamagaluru have not been given financial assistance since August last, sources in th Coffee Board told Deccan Herald.

The Coffee Board circular states 50% of financial assistance should be given for the purchase of machineries. An assistance of Rs 28,000 per acre is given for replanting Arabica coffee (limit is five acres of land) and Rs 22,000 for replanting Robasta coffee, said Karnataka Growers Federation president B S Jayaram.

He said a sum of Rs 100 crore was pending to be released to the Coffee Boards in Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu and Hassan districts. A delegation of growers from Karnataka had recently met Union Minister for Commerce Nirmala Seetharam recently. The Minister in turn had promised to release Rs 117 crore to the State within three months. However, not a single paise has been released so far, he added.

Following drought-like situation in Malnad, the Arabica plants have withered. This will affect the coffee production by 30 to 40%. The Centre should come to the rescue of the growers who are in distress.

Jairam said there were 1.50 lakh coffee growers in the State. The coffee is cultivated on 4 lakh hectares of land and the production was 3 lakh metric tonnes in 2013. However, owing to vagaries of nature and borer disease affecting the plants, the production has been declining. The coffee production last year was 2.50 lakh metric tonnes. 

K C Manje Gowda, coffee grower from Kodalu said, “As the growers have to submit applications online to avail subsidy from the Coffee Board, we have to spend atleast Rs 200 to Rs 300 per application.”

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