Coffee output in the current crop year 2011-12 could be lower than the initial estimates on decline in yields, especially of the robusta variety. The harvest of robusta has begun in some coffee zones in Karnataka and the trade expects about a 10 per cent decline in crop.
In its post-blossom or initial estimates, the state-run Coffee Board had pegged the 2011-12 crop at 3.22 lakh tonnes (lt), with a projected Arabica output at 1.04 lt and Robustas at 2.17 lt. The coffee crop has a bi-annual cycle, wherein the crop size peaks every alternate year. Last year was an ‘on year' for the Indian coffee, where the production peaked to 3.02 lt.
The harvest of Arabicas, the milder and premium varieties has almost been complete. “The Arabica output is broadly in line with the estimates. However, the robusta crop is seen lower. Being an ‘off-year,' we doubt whether the plants have strength to deliver another huge crop this year,” said Mr Ramesh Rajah, President, Coffee Exporters Association. Mr Rajah expects the 2011-12 crop at around 3 lt, almost same as last year.
The Coffee Board Chairman, Mr Jawaid Akhtar, said the board was still in the process of post-monsoon crop assessment and will finalise its estimates in a couple of weeks.
Even coffee growers feel that the crop size would shrink on lower Robusta output. Mr Marvin Rodrigues, Chairman, Karnataka Planters Association, said based on initial trends in harvest the robusta crop could be lower by about 10 per cent than the post-blossom estimates.
“A clearer picture would emerge in a couple of weeks as harvest would commence across all coffee zones,” Mr Rodrigues, also a large grower, said. The robusta output had touched an all time high of 2.07 lt in 2010-11, with the previous high being 1.96 lt in 2000-01.
Another grower, Mr K.A. Bopanna, partner of Kaapi Royale with estates in Coorg and Chikmagalur, said the robusta crop was down by about 20 per cent this year.