Coffee business in Nepal: Swelling consumption, shrinking production

Sabina Karki

November 20, 2019

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Coffee business in Nepal: Swelling consumption, shrinking production

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KATHMANDU:  Coffee, especially organic coffee formerly hailed as a redeemer of poverty has managed to make many talks these days. However, despite the remarkable increase in the number of consumers, the business itself seems to be waiting for a pushing click.

Ram Kumar Tamang, Lamjung, has been exploring his fate in coffee farming for last few years. Although he started coffee farming in a plot of one ropani five years ago, he is still unable to expand his farming as required due to enough financial resources.

Like Ram Kumar, despite bearing a good potential for coffee production, the farmers of Lamjung are unable to expand the coffee business.

Phurba Tamang, Lalitpur, has the same story told in different words. Phurba cites lack of facility, lack of proper training for business promotion, lack of enough field visits, and farmer’s inaccessibility to the good market as the factors responsible for the falling production.

“Besides, the scarcity of modern equipment and quality medicine is aggravating the farmers’ situation,” says Phurba, “as they lead to the setting ablaze of the whole coffee garden.”

He is upset with insects like xylotrechus quadripes, larvae of Red Stem Borer, green scale, mealybugs, and aphids. Some of these insects are almost incurable, hence demand blazing.

Prospects for ‘rupee bunches’

Although studies show the possibility of expanding coffee farming in 1.1 million hectors, these rupee trees are have hardly occupied 2650 hectors. Provided due attention is paid towards the prospects of coffee production and its impact on the farmer’s life and national economy, this cash crop can turn into a poverty redeemer.

Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board thinks it is high time that farmers are encouraged to adopt variety in the coffee species hailing ‘mono-species’ farming responsible for the poor production.

Deepak Khanal, the spokesperson at Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board reveals with Khabarhub that most of the farmers are using only Typica and Burbon coffee of Arabica species.

“One of the reasons for the poor production for it is the lack of technical knowledge and technical manpower,” adds Khanal, “diversifying the species can cause miracles.”

Krishna Hari Acharya, an agro-expert’s findings are also similar to the spokesperson. Like Khanal, he also believes taking to other species of coffee can boost production.

“The government should encourage farmers to adopt coffee farming,” says Acharya, adding, “Offering subsidies in the materials and fertilizers, proper arrangement of the market, training on growing, picking and storing the coffees are some more sectors the government should focus on for this.”

Farmers of 42 out of 77 districts have taken to coffee farming as an occupation.

1.6 million kg in a year, Kavre the biggest contributor

In spite of the wide coverage in terms of the districts, coffee production in Nepal is not promising yet.  Coffee production though now in 42 districts is not much high as per the potential.

The statistics of Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board show that the productions were 463 metric ton, 432 metric ton, 466 metric ton and 530 metric ton in F Y 2071, 2072, 2073, 2074, and 2075, respectively.

Increasing Import

Coffee has been making its place as a popular drink these days. The consumers are mushrooming everywhere be it the home, office, canteen hotel, restaurant, coffee houses or public occasions like works, seminars, and conferences.

This sudden popularity has increased the demand for coffee forcing the country to meet it by importing it worth 654.61 million rupees (FY 2074/75) annually.

Professional farming still a far cry

Pondering at the market makes one feel its good prospect as the record shows coffee export though on a small scale.

According to the statistics received from the department, Nepal managed to export coffee worth 99.63 million last year. Nepal exported readymade coffee worth Rs 4.46 million whereas the Rs 95.48 million was earned by exporting coffee seeds.

China, Japan, the USA, Australia, France, and South Korea are some countries where Nepal has been exporting coffee.

Thus, though Nepal has a better chance of earning big through coffee export, the production is far below the local consumption.

 History of coffee farming in Nepal

Hira Giri, from Aanpchour, Gulmi is said to be the pioneer of coffee farming in Nepal. Giri had planted coffee bringing seeds from Myanmar in 1938 AD. Due to the lack of government support and technical knowledge, farming could not take a pace.

Gradually, farmers of Palpa, Syangja, Parvat, Arghakhanchi, Kaski, Lamjung, Tanahun, Gorkha, Lalitpur, Dhading, Sindhupalchowk, Kabhre are drawn towards it.

Discovering the topography, and soil structure of mid-hills promising for coffee farming the professional coffee farming is sprouting in the eastern hills esp in Ilam, Jhapa, Sankhuwasabha, Paanchthar, Dhankuta, Bhojpur and Okhaldhunga.

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