USDA hopeful of India’s coffee production despite heatwave

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revised India’s coffee production forecast upwards to 5.2 million 60-kilogram bags for marketing year 2015-16, despite the current heatwave. In its May report, the USDA said it expects favourable blossom showers in March will have boosted crop yields. Southern India, which accounts for more than 85 per cent of the country’s coffee growing region, has borne the brunt of a heatwave that began in April. Authorities have reported that in the lower yielding state of Andhra Pradesh, nearly 800 people have died since mid-May. Currently more than 1100 people have been killed as a result of the heat and forecasts are for high temperatures to continue into next week. The USDA’s report said it expects the replacement of aging Arabica crops, which is occurring at an annual rate of 2 – 3 per cent per year, to result in slightly higher fruit than last year. The USDA’s marketing year 2014-15 production estimate remains unchanged at 5.1 million 60-kilogram bags, which is below the Coffee Board of India’s post monsoon estimate of 5.5 million bags. “Prolonged dry weather harmed plant development and an unusually wet southwest monsoon with continuous rains for more than 60 days led to berry droppings, defoliation, and the emergence of fungal diseases,” said the USDA’s Dhruv Sood, in a statement. “These heavy rains in key growing regions appear to have reduced yields of the Arabica crop in particular.” The USDA’s marketing year 2014-15 export forecast is 4.7 million 60-kilogram bags; about 300,000 60-kilogram bags lower than its previous prediction. It blamed sluggish demand from major European buyers for the downward revision. The USDA’s marketing year 2015-16 export forecast is 5 million 60-kilogram bags with the bigger crop raising volumes over the previous year. The report said the elimination of subsidies for fertiliser and rising labour costs has been putting added strain on farmers. India accounts for about four per cent of world coffee production and export. Robusta accounts for more than 70 per cent of India’s coffee production.

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