New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said due to “lack of timely rain”, there will be a drop in the production of coffee even as she maintained that consumption of Indian varieties of coffee has gone up.
“Unfortunately, because of the lack of timely rain during the blossoming season of coffee, we expect that there will be a fall in the total output in the coming years too,” Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha during the question hour.
However, she said consumption of Indian varieties of coffee has gone up because “many Indian brands themselves are setting up outlets” particularly in north India where “coffee drinking habit is far lesser than in South India”.
“You have private coffee outlets coming and setting up business in north India. So I am not averse to the idea of telling anybody to buy more of Indian coffee. But more than 90 per cent of all that we are producing is going out,” she said.
The minister informed the house that only two per cent of the coffee growing area in the world is in India, but India produces four per cent of coffee.
“Five per cent of the total coffee exports are from India. So, our coffee producers are doing very well and nearly 90 per cent of all that is growing in the country is being exported,” she said.
Sitharaman said about 3.4 lakh metric tonnes of coffee was grown in the country in the year 2014-15, of which three lakh metric tonnes of coffee was exported.
Answering supplementary questions from Sanjay Jaiswal of the BJP and K.C. Venugopal of the Congress, the minister said the Coffee Board is providing focussed support for water augmentation and extension activities to coffee growers.
The main buyers of Indian coffee are Italy, Russian Federation, Germany, Belgium and Turkey.
She also said the Coffee Exporters Association have represented before the Department of Commerce for adding green coffee beans to the exempted list in the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST). The matter is “under consideration”, she added.
To encourage small tea growers and give them better price for their products, Sitharaman also said a proposal has been mooted to amend the Tea (Marketing) Control Order 2003 so as to define mini and micro factories and exempt them from obtaining no objection certificate for manufacturing tea.
The minister said she will visit Assam soon to take stock of the tea garden workers.
“I will be soon visiting Assam for tea-related matters. The members and the tea-growers are welcome to point out where the deficiencies are,” she said in reply to a question from Ramen Deka, the BJP member from Assam.