[pib] Technology Initiatives for Coffee Stakeholders
Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Read B2B, Coffee Connect and Krishi Tharanga
Mains level: Coffee Cultivation in India
- Minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu has launched Coffee Connect – India coffee field force app and Coffee Krishi Tharanga – digital mobile extension services for coffee stakeholders.
- The mobile app Coffee Connect has been developed to ease the work of field functionaries and to improve the work efficiency.
- This application provides solution by harnessing the power of mobility comprising the latest technology in easing the whole process of the field.
- This includes activities like digitization of Coffee Growers & Estates with Geo Tagging, collecting the Plantation details.
- It will also help in transparency in the activities of the extension officers and officials, transparency in subsidy disbursement and real time report generation.
Coffee Krishi Tharanga
- The Coffee KrishiTharanga services are aimed at providing customized information and services to increase productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability.
- The service is pilot tested in the Chikmagalur and Hassan districts of Karnataka State covering 30,000 farmers during the first year and will be extended to remaining growers in a phased manner.
- NABARD has partly funded the Pilot project.
- The solution will help in to reach maximum growers in limited period, efficient, timely, customised advisory, improve the efficiency through digitization and leverage existing mobile reach for wider delivery of improved technology.
Coffee cultivation in India
- Coffee is cultivated in India in about 4.54 lakh hectares by 3.66 lakh coffee farmers and 98% of them are small farmers.
- Its cultivation is mainly confined to Karnataka (54%), Kerala (19%) and Tamil Nadu (8%) which form traditional coffee tracts.
- New fields are also developed in NE states.
- Indian coffee, grown mostly in southern states under monsoon rainfall conditions, is also termed as “Indian monsooned coffee”.
- The two well known species of coffee grown are the Arabica and Robusta.
- The first variety that was introduced in the Baba Budan Giri hill ranges of Karnataka in the 17th century was marketed over the years under the brand names of Kent and S.795.
Coffee Board of India
- The Coffee Board of India is an organisation managed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the government of India to promote coffee production in India.
- Head Office is in Bangalore.
- The Coffee Board of India was established by an act of Parliament in 1942.
- Until 1995 the Coffee Board marketed the coffee of many growers from a pooled supply, but after that time coffee marketing became a private-sector activity due to the economic liberalisation in India.
- The Coffee Boards tradition duties included the promotion of the sale and consumption of coffee in India and abroad, conducting coffee research, financial assistance to establish small coffee growers, safeguarding working conditions for laborers, and managing the surplus pool of unsold coffee.
In knotty problems
Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country
Prelims level: Jute Cultivation in India, I-CARE programme
Mains level: The news card highlights the need for revitalizing the labour intensive Jute Industry in India
Jute Sector is declining
- The outcry and ban against plastic bags and single-use plastic packaging holds potential for the jute sector.
- But more than the 100-year-old sector, supporting five million families at the farm and the industry-level, may not be in a position to benefit from this opportunity.
- The availability of quality raw jute and shrinking acreage on the one hand and the failure of most jute mills to modernise has left the sector dependent on government-support like packaging reservations.
- Primitive, labour-intensive cultivation methods and retting (drenching raw jute in water to extract the fibre) — a crucial determinant in raw jute quality — creates problems.
The Jute Foundation (TJF)
- It is trying to address many issues pertaining to the environment-friendly product.
- It is trying to engage all stakeholders –farmers, workers, mills, research organisations and consumers.
- TJF initiative is being introduced for the industry to work jointly with research and development agencies like IJIRA (Indian Jute Industries’ Research Association) and others to develop thin and slim jute shopping bags.
Jute Production in India
- West Bengal is India’s single largest raw jute cultivator producing almost 75 % of the crop in Nadia, Dinajpur, Murshidabad and North 24 Parganas districts.
- But acreage had stagnated amid low productivity and falling prices of the cash crop.
- The I-CARE programme unveiled by the National Jute Board and the Jute Corporation of India in 2015 seeks to address this issue by introducing a pilot project on retting technologies aimed at increasing farmers’ returns.
[pib] Restructured National Bamboo Mission
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: National Bamboo Mission (NBM), National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)
Mains level: Various schemes for promoting plantation sector
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Bamboo Mission (NBM) under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).
- The Mission will be implemented for the remaining period of Fourteenth Finance Commission (2018-19 & 2019-20)
- The scheme is proposed to bring about one lakh ha area under plantation, it is expected that about one lakh farmers would be directly benefitted in terms of the plantation.
- Bamboo plantation will contribute to optimizing farm productivity and income thereby enhancing livelihood opportunities of small & marginal farmers including landless and women as well as provide quality material to industry.
- National Bamboo Mission (NBM) started as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in 2006-07, was mainly emphasizing on propagation and cultivation of bamboo, with limited efforts on processing, product development and value addition.
- There was a weak linkage between the producers (farmers) and the industry.
- The restructured proposal gives simultaneous emphasis to the propagation of quality plantations of bamboo, product development and value addition including primary processing and treatment; micro, small & medium enterprises as well as high-value products
Bill to amend Indian Forest Act tabled in Lok Sabha
Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Indian Forest Act, non-forest areas
Mains level: British era acts and provisions that need to be amended according to present needs
The Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017
- The bill would amend the Indian Forest Act to exempt felling and transportation of bamboo grown in non-forest areas from the state permit
- It would omit bamboos growing in non-forest areas from the definition of trees
- Last month, the government had come out with an ordinance to amend the Indian Forest Act, 1927 in this regard
- Prior to issuance of the ordinance, the definition of tree in the Act included palm, bamboo, brushwood and cane
Why this move?
- Bamboo, though taxonomically a grass, is treated as tree under the Act and attracts the requirement of permit for transit
- While many states have exempted felling and transit of various species of bamboos within the states, the interstate movement of bamboos require permit
- The farmers are facing hardships in getting the permits for felling and transit of bamboos which acts as a major impediment to the cultivation of bamboos by farmers on their land
South story: plantation crops get the shivers
Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country,
From the UPSC perspective following things are important:
Prelims Level: Different types of spices
Mains Level: The South India’s economy is significantly depends on spices, tea and coffee. The article comprehensively explains the issues related to this sector.
Specialty of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala
- The three southern states are home to coffee and tea gardens, rubber plantations, and spice crops, generating employment to more than 13 lakh people
- Almost 40% of tea produced in the southern States is exported and 31% of pepper grown here, too, goes to other countries
- South India is the main grower of coffee, rubber, and spices such as cardamom, and pepper
Issues related to Plantation Sector
- The plantation sector faces issues such as challenges of climate change, increasing labour and input costs, the need to improve yield, and necessity of growers to focus on value addition
Challenges of Tea and Coffee sector
- Tea: In the case of tea, high labour costs and a jump in production in all the tea-growing countries are challenges
- Coffee: It is largely export-driven, there is a need to increase yields
Potential in Tea Sector
- Five or six decades ago, south Indian tea was on par with Sri Lankan tea in terms of quality and prices
- Gradually, production of CTC tea increased over orthodox tea in the southern estates, mainly due to high demand for the CTC from Russia two decades ago
- Today, though exports to different destinations are high in volume, it is mostly in the low-price range
- Even the better gardens in south India realise (auction price) just about Rs. 100 a kg as against Rs. 240 a kg for Sri Lankan tea
- Sri Lanka continues to produce orthodox tea that has larger export demand and promotes the “Ceylon tea” varieties
- To produce more orthodox tea and realise better prices, efforts should start at tea gardens
- All of this require huge investment
Condition of Coffee Exports
- For coffee, exports reached an all-time high of 3.55 lakh tonnes last fiscal, with the trend continuing this year.
- A national-level survey in 2012 showed the domestic market too growing at 5%-6%
Robusta and Arabica Coffee
- Over the years, cultivation of the Robusta variety has increased over the Arabica variety
- Indian Robusta has gained recognition in the international market and gets a premium
- However, Arabica cultivation requires attention as it is consumed more in the domestic market and this variety is important to conserve the forest ecosystem
- Arabica is susceptible to climate changes and in almost every-coffee growing country, Arabica production is affected because of climate changes
- In India, in the early 1950s, Arabica constituted 82% of coffee production and Robusta pitched in with 18%
- By 2016-2017, Arabica had slumped 31.3% and Robusta had increased to 68.7%
Issues related to Rubber market
- Most rubber-producing countries do not have a domestic market and hence export their produce
- The rubber-consuming industry in India (tyre manufacturers), which was earlier using the domestic sheet rubber, is now switching over to block rubber, citing better quality
- If import of block rubber increases further, it will affect the model of small growers making sheet rubber as value addition and selling it
Issues related to Spices
- Cardamom and pepper are the main spices on the plantation side, apart from cloves and nutmeg
- In the last 6-12 months, imports have pushed down the average price for domestic pepper growers from Rs. 697 a kgto Rs. 452
- Spices are sensitive to climate changes
- Even a slight variation in rainfall can bring down productivity 50%-60%
- Adverse climatic conditions in the last two years in several cultivation pockets have hit the cardamom crop
Tea industry seeks special rate under GST
- News: The tea industry has sought a special tax rate under the new GST regime
- Present System: Various concessions/ benefits are provided both by the Centre and the State to tea sector
- These benefits are in the nature of exemption from excise duty payment and lower VAT rates on tea across all states
- Challenge: The industry is facing a host of problems, ranging from ageing tea bushes to climate change
- Significance: Tea industry provides direct employment to more than 1.1 million, half of whom are women. It acts a source of livelihood for poorer sections of the society
Centre, Bengal in row over growing tea on farmland
- Context: Recently, Centre asked the West Bengal govt to withdraw a 15 year-old notification banning conversion of agricultural land into tea cultivation area
- Reason: It was affecting a large number of small tea growers
- The news: The State govt has argued that it was imposed as part of land reforms to prevent ‘tea gardeners’ from purchasing land belonging to tribal people
- The Union Commerce ministry directed the Tea Board to take over the management and control of seven tea estates
- Know the facts: West Bengal and Assam together accounts for over 80% of the country’s tea production
Bengal tea industry sees ray of hope in minister’s visit
The state has made global headlines with reports of ‘starvation deaths’ in the gardens in North Bengal.
- The state, which has in its fold the famed Darjeeling brand, has since last year, made international headlines with reports of ‘starvation deaths’ in the gardens in North Bengal.
- Talks with a cross-section of the industry revealed, that the minister has accepted the need to examine Plantation Labour Act.
- The possibility of asking workers to accept a minimum wage structure that encompasses the benefits now being extended, to the workers under the PLA.
- As per latest statistics between Jan and Oct 2015 production in West Bengal is lower at 274 million kgs compared to a year ago figure.
- The issue of high-costs is plaguing the organised industry throughout the tea producing regions in Assam, West Bengal and the South.
Centre plans to revise tea garden wages
Union govt. has proposed a revised minimum wage for tea garden workers in West Bengal.
- The State and the Union govt will take steps to reopen tea gardens in West Bengal.
- They will also ensure that non–functional or abandoned tea gardens function properly.
- There are about a dozen closed tea gardens in the region and about 22 of the gardens are either abandoned or non functional.
- A majority of the workers accepted the government’s offer for a minimum wage of about Rs. 250.
Small tea growers seek international agency
International agency has proposed to help represent the small tea growers’ sector, which currently contributes about 70 per cent of the world tea crop.
- Efforts are also on to find ways to directly market small tea growers’ produce.
- Recent inter-session meeting of the Inter-governmental Group of FAO in Italy discussed the plan.
- Representatives from India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, China, Japan, Malawi, the U.S., U.K. and others present.
- Need for an international body for small tea growers was brought by quite a few tea-growing countries including India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Indonesia.
- Price realisation, quality and cost of production were core issues affecting segment.
The contribution to segment of the tea industry is highest in Sri Lanka and Kenya.
Efforts on to make tea industry climate-smart
The project is investigating the impact of climate change on tea production and livelihoods in North-East India
- Rainfall has plentiful for growing tea in India due to recent changes in the climate, surface and ground water are becoming important irrigation systems.
- Now, climate-change is impacting tea-cultivation in a major way, by this initiative, industry develops resilience to uncertain and negative climate change impact.
- Project launched by the Tea Research Association along with Southampton University on climate, smartening tea plantation landscapes.
- Project includes climate variability, land-management practices and climate-smart agriculture practices.
The Centre is planning to liberalise the Tea Act
To increase tea production and productivity by bringing additional areas under cultivation.
- It helps to waive the present stipulation of obtaining permits for bringing additional areas under tea cultivation
- Tea production has to grow vertically (through productivity increases) and horizontally (through land expansion).
- C-DAC (Centre for Developing Advanced Computing) is presently working on a spectrometer which will enable tea growers especially small ones to detect traces of pesticides early.
Dip in Darjeeling tea output likely
- Production of Darjeeling tea may drop by around 10 per cent this year due to heavy downpour and the recent landslides.
- Tea is grown at high altitudes and on the slopes of the Himalayan range.
- The unique muscatel aroma of exotic Darjeeling tea comes from a combination of locational climate, soil conditions, altitude and the processing of the leaves.
West Bengal tea units hail new Bill
- West Bengal, leading tea producer after Assam, has proposed a bill that envisages setting up a Rs. 100 crore fund.
- Fund can be utilised for providing interest subvention, scholarship to children of tea garden employees and for sick or closed gardens.
- WB’s 3 tea regions — Darjeeling, Terai and Doors — account for a quarter of India’s 1,100-odd million kg tea crop.
- For the first time the State has offered to partner the industry in respect of the social welfare cost, which under Plantation Labour Act (PLA), 1951 is required to provide certain amenities to workers.
Tea industry launches pilot scheme with Israeli company
- Drip irrigation technology is being harnessed on a pilot basis in a few gardens.
- Growing concern over crop loss due to paucity of rainfall.
- The gardens in Assam & West Bengal, suffered 2 consecutive years of crop loss due to drought like conditions.
- The impact was severe in 2013, when nearly half the crop was lost!
- Drip irrigation was being tried out on an experimental basis at certain tea estates with different agro-climatic conditions.
New trade policy may erode competitiveness of Indian teas
- Recent reduction in export benefits to the sector under the MEIS (Merchandise Exports from India Scheme).
- Tea had been earlier included in the Vishesh Krishi and Gram Udyog Yojana (VKGUY). Under this scheme, teas (both bulk and value-added) were eligible for incentive in the form of Duty Credit Scrip.
- This clause may be tampered with in the new MEIS.
How big is this issue?
- Tea, coffee, spice & cashew also constitute part of this categorisation.
- Also, women constitute over 50% of the total workforce.
Of orthodox tea and pesticide levels
- Orthodox teas are made in the same way as crush tear and curl CTC teas, but with most of the leaf remaining intact.
- India and Iran will together review the issue of maximum residue levels (MRL) of pesticides in teas.
- Iran is an estimated 100 million kg market which is mostly serviced by Sri Lanka. India’s presence was muted in view of the earlier U.S. sanctions on Iran.
- India ranks 2nd in world production of tea and fourth in the world market as tea exporting country.
What are these US-Indo sanctions we are talking about?