Cold weather mars HP's bid at coffee cultivation

Bhanu P Lohumi

Shimla, August 9

The Himachal Agriculture Department's pilot project to introduce coffee cultivation in the hill state has failed to yield the desired results.

Survival rate of Plants just 5-10%

  • Dept launched pilot project in 2014 in Kangra, Mandi, Una and Bilaspur districts
  • One lakh plants, mainly of arabica and robusta variety, provided to over 500 farmers
  • Only arabica plants survived to some extent in few pockets not lashed by cold winds

The cold climate conditions have marred the prospects of coffee plantation as an alternative cash crop as the survival rate of the plants is very low, ranging only between 5 and 10 per cent.

The department had launched the project in 2014. The plants were sown on a trial basis on 7.34 hectares in Kangra, Mandi, Una and Bilaspur districts. The area under coffee plantation initially increased four times to 30.12 hectares in 2018-19.

The department provided one lakh plants to over 500 farmers since 2014, aiming to augment their income as raw coffee seeds fetch Rs 150-200 per kg. The Central Coffee Research Institute, Chikmagalur, Karnataka, had recommended two varieties for cultivation in Himachal — arabica and robusta. During the trial, it was observed that the robusta variety required more water as compared to arabica and the farmers were told to go for the latter.

Under the ideal conditions, coffee plants should be raised under the shade, protected from frost and cold, and the temperature should range between 4 degrees Celsius and 35 degrees Celsius. Specific locations were identified in certain districts to grow coffee plants.

The idea was to grow coffee on the pattern of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as the plants start bearing fruit in four years, while commercial production starts after 10 years. A single plant produces 500 gm to 1 kg of coffee and 100 saplings are planted in one kanal (500 sq yards).

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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