Bangalore, Mar 22: Giving respite to coffee growers, badly hit by low yield due to ageing crop, the Centre has announced a Rs 310 crore package for them in the 11th plan, Union Minister of state for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said today.
Talking to newspersons at the Coffee Board headquarters here, he said the package, which was cleared by the cabinet on March 13, included re-plantation of coffee crop at a cost of Rs 100 crore across the traditional coffee growing areas of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Further funds would be provided towards the waiver of interest for small growers (Rs 90 crore), water augmentation (Rs 40 crore), coffee development in North East and non-traditional areas (Rs 65 crore), capacity building for stake holders (Rs 10 crore) and support for SHGs and tiny growers, he said.
''With the announcement, the much awaited coffee crop re-plantation will now begin. The Coffee Board had made arrangements to distribute new 'Chandragiri' plant variety and the gestation period will now come down to 3-4 years from the earlier 7-8 years,'' he said.
Mr Ramesh said the government was focussing on expanding coffee cultivation in non-traditional areas like Paderu and Araku valley in Visakhapatnam district of the Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Orissa, where coffee was cultivated by tribals.
In Paderu, the tribals, who had been growing organic coffee, would get full support of the government, he said.
A similar package had also been approved for cardamom re-plantation with an outlay of Rs 42 crore.
In case of pepper, it was entirely the subject of the state and he had requested the Karnataka government to include pepper rejuvenation under the National Horticulture Mission, he said.