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Brazilian expertise to boost coffee consumption in India

Written by: Staff

Bangalore, Mar 28: The Coffee Board will seek the aid of a Brazilian coffee expert to boost domestic coffee consumption, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said today.

Speaking to newspersons after a brainstorming session with stakeholders of the Coffee industry, he said Brazil had tripled its coffee consumption in a matter of a decade, while India had been struggling to enhance its coffee consumption.

Over the last decade, the coffee consumpion had increased from 60,000 tonnes to 80,000 tonnes and efforts were on to double it over the next ten years, he said, adding that nearly 80 per cent of the domestic consumption was only in Tamil Nadu with Karnataka, producing 75 per cent of the total coffee in the country, accounting for a mere ten per cent.

He said the problems faced by Brazil in enhancing coffee consumption was similar to that in India and hence a Brazilian, Carlos Brandos, would be in the country shortly to give a fillip to domestic coffee consumption.

Similarly efforts were also being mounted to ward off the threat from Vietnam in enhancing India's share of coffee exports to Italy and Yugoslavia, he said.

Another significant step to be initiated by the Coffee Board was to regain the lost ground in Russia which had been a captive Indian Instant tea buyer for several decades during the Rupee-Rouble trade.

Nearly two thirds of the Russian market had been lost and efforts would be made to regain it, he added.

Besides good productivity, Vienamese coffee costs at least 50 per cent less than the Indian coffee and this was posing a major problem, he pointed out.

Mr Ramesh said that though the Indian market share had not been affected in Italy, the incremental share in that market was being taken away by Vietnam.

On the lines of the Information Technology and Biotechnology annual events, Bangalore would have a biennial coffee show, the Indian International Coffee Festival, from February next year.

The three-day show would target both dometic and foreign markets, he added.

Mr Ramesh said an Inter-ministerial group had been set up to have a fresh look into the Rs 100 crore Price Stabilisation Fund for plantation crops. The Fund set up three years ago had failed to serve its purpose and efforts were on to come out with a new strategy. Among those in the Committee were Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi. ''A major concern is the volatility of prices of plantation crops,'' he added.

The Minister said simultaneously former Insurance Regulatory and Develoment Authority Chairman N Rangachari was also being appointed as an one-man committee to look into a suitable insurance mechanism for growers in the plantation sector.

He said a major factor in enhanced production costs in the plantation sector was the social infrastructure cost which was currently added to the production.

A Bill to amend the Plantation Labour Act would be approved soon by the Cabinet to enable the State and Central Government share 50 per cent of the social infrastructure cost such as providing schools to children of plantation labour, besides housing and other basic needs of plantation labour. This would bring down the cost of coffee atleast by Rs ten per kg, he added.

He said the Coffee Board would within the next three to six months launch generic promotion for Coffee both within the country and abroad.


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