Dip in cherry coffee prices put farmers in deep trouble

VISAKHAPATNAM: More than one lakh coffee farmers in the Alluri Sitarama Raju district are facing a difficult situation as the prices of cherry coffee have dropped in the local market. Private traders are buying cherry coffee at Rs 120 per kilo, which is much lower than the international market price of Rs 160 per kilo. This sudden drop of Rs 40 in the price has put the coffee farmers in deep trouble as they have hundreds of sacks of coffee stacked in their storage rooms.
Around 2.3 lakh coffee farmers in the district are cultivating coffee on 2.43 lakh acres in all 11 mandals.This area has increased from one lakh acres a decade ago to 1.43 lakh acres after the super cyclone of Hudhud in 2014.
The state government had planned to expand coffee cultivation to one lakh acres by 10,000 acres every year in the last decade and also brought 40,000 acres consolidation after cyclone Hudhud.
Approximately 1.9 lakh acres of coffee yield was generated this year, including the coffee plantations owned by the AP Forest Development Corporation (APFDC), which has 10,000 acres, and also the tribal sector.
Around 75% of the produce would be clean coffee, and 25% would be cherry coffee. However, both clean coffee and cherry coffee prices have decreased, and local traders are buying coffee from farmers at significantly lower prices than the market rates. The local traders are purchasing at their will and proving costly to the farmers, one of the coffee farmers Korra Bonjibabu alleged. He added that parchment coffee price is encouraged but the cherry coffee price is very disappointing.
The coffee board officer Ramesh said that the traders would follow the prices of Bangalore Market – Indian Coffee Trade Association, based on the international market.
“At the beginning of the season, local traders purchased cherry coffee at around Rs. 150, but gradually decreased the price to Rs 120. Farmers are disappointed as they expected good prices this year, but the local traders are looting them by decreasing the prices,” another coffee farmer Vantala Lakshman accused.
The Coffee Board officials advise farmers to contact 8037685003 for the national and international prices. They should not sell the produce for a low price. Meanwhile, farmers are requesting the Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC) to relax the humidity percentage of beans and purchase the coffee beans, as continuous fog conditions in the area have caused the coffee beans to remain wet even after drying.
The coffee cultivation in the forest areas of Ap dates back to 1960 when the Forest Department developed coffee in 4000 hectares. GCC and the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) helped the tribals to cultivate coffee, which proved to be a good source of income compared to other crops. However, the involvement of middlemen and lack of awareness have been proving costly to the farmers, who are urging the GCC to take active steps to help them.

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