IIT Kharagpur to develop new machineries
Balehonnur (Karnataka), July 22: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Khargpur working out to develop machineries to overcome acute labour problem prevailing in Chickmagalur district, the Coffee bowl of South India in Karnataka.
"A team of IIT Khargpur scientists visited the Centrall Coffee Research Institute (CCRI) recently and have agreed to develop machineries needed for the Coffee processing activities like weeding machine, sprayer, burner, pit digger", said CCRI Director (Research) Dr Jayaram.
Talking to sources he said that "within two to three years IIT, Khargpur may come out with needed machineries which could solve the present labour problem to large extent. It was also proposed to develop machine for harvesting coffee seeds also." The district was facing severe man-power to work in the highly labour intensive coffee industry".
He also informed that that it was proposed to develop coffee plants which are resistence to White Stem Borer (WSB) involving private biotech companies and Universities. Metabalic Life Science situated in Indian Institute of Science, which has the state of the art laboratory, has agreed in principle and a proposal has been sent to the Unioon Ministry for its approval. "In five years time we may have a Coffee plant which is resistence to WSB and other pests also." "Our main aim was to develop a plant which is resistence to WSB, once it was developed, half of the problem of plantation will be over because most of our energy was spent on it and huge economic loss on account of loosing the plant due to WSB would be reduced," he added.
Dr Jayaram said that though the WSB is one of the major disease in Coffee plants. It has been there for centuries, but still due to changing weather condition and condusive weather it could not be controled to desired limit inspite of evolving many methods.
He said that the CCRI has also been working on improving soil fertility to improve Coffee production. At present because of heavy usage of chemical fertilisers the soil have lost its biological characters.
Replying to a question, he said that " Our aim was not to encourage growing organic coffee but to find substitute to organic manure can be developed in the Estate itself and it can be balanced with chemical fertiliser." He said that the CCRI, established in 1925, has been working on realising on Coffee plants for higher prooductivity and developing packages as how to cultivate it and improve the yield since Coffee is very sensitive crop it needs intensive care.
He said that due to change in weather condition the CCRI is now concentrating on finetuning the technologies developed.
Replying to a question, Dr Jayaram said that at present two-third of the Coffee produced has been exported and there is vast scope for improving the exports. However, there is urgent need to increase domestic consumption since percapita consumption of coffee in the country was only 65 grams to 70 grams. Finland has the highest per capita consumption of 11.5 kgs.
The Coffee production last year was about three lakh metric tonne and more than 2.1 lakh metric tonne were exported.
He said that the domestic consumption has been showing increasing trend with 2006 figure being 85,000 tonnes, an increase by 5,000 tonnes compared to previous year. Efforts were being made to popularise Coffee drinking in North Eastern region.
Dr Jayaram said that the CCRI, which has sub-research stations in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and a Bio-Technology station at Mysore, has so far released 13 varieties of coffee.