Guwahati, Aug. 19: The parliamentary standing committee on commerce has asked the department of commerce to take all steps to market Northeast’s coffee as exotic beverage to help them command a premium price.
This was recommended in the report Performance of Plantation Sector, Tea and Coffee Industry submitted by the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce.
The report was recently tabled in both Houses of Parliament.
It has asked the commerce department to take all steps to obtain organic certification for coffee of the region and help establish linkage with the exporters so that coffee could be sold at premium helping the growers and workers alike. It has asked the department to seize the opportunity offered by coffee cultivation in the Northeast where the cultivation is organic by default.
“Such coffees could also be marketed as exotic coffees and command a premium price,” the report said.
It appreciated the efforts of Coffee Board because of which the total area covered under expansion and consolidation of area during the 11th Plan period was 1,944 hectares as against the target of 1,850 hectares.
“Nevertheless, the committee feels that the pace of expansion of coffee coverage in the Northeast should have been faster for two strong reasons. First, coffee production is a source of gainful employment in remote and rural areas and second, the country’s necessity to augment coffee production,” the report said.
The necessity to increase production has arisen because of non-realisation of targets. The committee expressed its disappointment that during Eleventh Plan, the Coffee Board revised the original target downward to the tune of 65,000 tonnes and it still fell short by 62,100 tonnes of the revised target.
In view of the non-realisation of the revised targets of production during the Eleventh Plan, the committee has asked the department to take effective steps towards increasing the production of coffee in non-traditional coffee-growing states to increase the area under coffee plantation.
Awareness about poor productivity level of coffee is quite low in the region as compared to traditional coffee-growing regions. The report recommended that the expansion in coffee-growing areas in the Northeast must be carried on scientific cultivation basis so that higher productivity could be attained.
Sources said the production has been rising from 80 tonnes in 2008-09 and is expected to touch 220 tonnes in the Northeast 2012-13. The allocation for the Northeast in the Eleventh Plan was Rs 20 crore and authorities have requested for a substantial increase in the Twelfth Plan. The total planted area of coffee in the Northeast is 5,545.63 hectares while the bearing area is 739.02 hectares.