Karnataka Coffee Farmers Selling Farms, Killing Themselves
Coffee farmers in Karnataka are either trading their estates to killing themselves as growing the cash yield is becoming rising unviable. This is according to a fresh report released on December 6, 2019.
The status of Indian Coffee 2019 arranged by Karnataka Growers Federation and released in Bengaluru also said that Karnataka’s coffee output fell by about 40%. Contrarily, the input costs increased after production slipped.
Consistent, non-remuneration for scarcity, high incidence of pests, and illness forced traditional coffee farmers to leave their plantations, according to the report. Also, the non-availability of credit and the high cost of labor are some of the reasons why farmers abandon their farms.
Besides, from 1999 to 2005, and from 2008 to 2018, the market cost of coffee is weak. Prices progressed only in 2011, 2014, and 2015 when one kilogram of Arabica coffee amounts more than Rs 250.
Aside from market factors, the other major aspects of making bean farming unviable were unpredictable weather.
During 2002-2005 and 2008-2016, farmers struggled due to dryness. In 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2018-2019, they struggled due to heavy rains.
During the 2019 Kharid season, the Karnataka government announced 80 taluks of 17 districts as flood-affected. These involved the three coffee-growing districts of Kodagu with three taluks. Also, these include Hassan with three taluks and Chikmagalur with four taluks.
The three districts simultaneously produce more than 70% of India’s coffee. They forecast crop losses between 33% and 50%. About 1.2 million tons of coffee, valued at Rs 2,200 crore, was destroyed due to flooding.
Commodities: Karnataka Coffee Farmers Misery over the Years
In coffee commodity news, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2018-2019 experienced heavy rains, which caused a severe infestation of pests and illnesses such as white stem borer and leaf rust. It resulted in nearly 30-80% of plant loss, according to the report.
Between 2000 and 2008, an area under coffee production rose by about 2%, whereas yield decreased by around 39%. Also, the cropping area decreased by 0.6%. The decrease in crop directly affected the growers’ profit.
In addition to market costs and erratic weather, an increase in the price of inputs like fertilizers also caused trouble among coffee farmers.
Input costs rose by 2.6 times in the last eight years. The cost of fertilizers such as Diammonium Phosphate (DAP), Urea, Suphala, Potash, and Rock Phosphate was about Rs 1,540 in 2011. It rose to Rs 4,030 in 2019.
The cost of manures such as more of potash rose from Rs 250 per bag in 2011 to Rs 945 per bag in 2019. It is incredibly worrying as potash is necessary for the formation of coffee berries. Also, DAP price rose from Rs 500 per bag in 2011 to Rs 1,440 per bag.
Those who abandoned coffee farms forced in many cases to trade their estates at lower prices. They typically changed to growing and selling silver to meet their urgent needs.
Moreover, 150 coffee farmers killed themselves between 2001 and 2011, according to the report.
It called for a full loan waiver, interest on the loan decreased to below 3%. Also, for the support for coffee growers collectives, and cheap supply of fertilizers and pesticides.
Farmers also demanded government assistance in re-plantation, water augmentation, eco-certification, and support for small growers’ collectives or co-operatives for bean marketing.