Bangalore, Dec 28 (UNI) To provide a new thrust to coffee industry, Coffee Board today unveiled a new variety of Arabica coffee plant 'Chandragiri', which would be planted in 30 per cent of the coffee grown area during the next ten years.
Coffee industry is hit hard by pest problems and ageing plantation, and the new variety developed by the Board at its Central Coffee Research Centre at Balehonnur in Karnataka, which is resistant to leaf frost and promises superior bean quality traits, is expected to provide the answer.
Releasing the new variety, Union Minister of State for Commerce here today Jairam Ramesh said the Union government had decided to transform plantation industry from subsidy driven approach to commodity driven agriculture of crops like coffee, tea, spices, rubber and coconut, he said.
"We have brought out a new variety after 21 years but I promise you that the Coffee Board would come out with new varieties every three to four years from now onwards. 'Chandragiri' will be the answer to our plans to transform the coffee industry and take up large scale replanting," he said.
Apart from coffee, new rubber varieties would be also released once in five years by the rubber board, he said.
The minister said the growth area for coffee will be from domestic market and for this the favourite South Indian drink will have to break the 'Vindhya barrier'.
"We will give an aggressive push to coffee consumption and popularise coffee drinking in North India. We have to be different in our market approach. Only 20 per cent of the coffee production is being consumed within the country while the rest is exported. In the next ten years we want to take the domestic consumption to 80 per cent and bring down the exports to 20 per cent," he said.
Highlighting the need to create a new community of researchers in plantation and commodity areas, he said the government had accepted portions of M S Swaminathan committee report which included career orientation of scientists in research organisations dealing with plantation crops.
"We should treat the scientists in plantation research stations on par with those in ICAR and CSIR. We need to train young scientists specialising in plantation in reputed institutes like IISc. Dr Balaram, the IISc Director has agreed to make the institute be part the collaborative programme in coffee research with Coffee Board," he said.
Mr Ramesh said large scale of generic skills was available in biotechnology and Genetic technology and it had to be brought into the coffee industry.