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Agency coffee farmers upbeat over good price

Paderu (ASR district): Coffee farmers are in the tribal belt are upbeat over increased prices fetched by the aromatic crop which has international demand. But the at the same time, they are complaining about the piling up of incentive dues from the state government and the Centre, which have reached Rs 60 crore.

Both GCC and private traders are purchasing the coffee seed cultivated by the tribals in the agency areas. The tribals have cultivated coffee in large quantities this year. The prices of coffee have increased this year in the market.

Currently, as the season is coming to an end, private traders are buying the coffee crop paying record prices. Compared to private traders, Girijan Cooperative Corporation is lagging behind in paying better price.

In Chinthapalli, G K Veedhi, Koyyuru and G Madugula mandals, private traders are buying coffee cherry at Rs 142 a kg and parchment at Rs 285 a kg, while GCC is offering Rs 135 for cherry and Rs 270 for parchment.

Traders say that the price of cherry in the international market is Rs 148 per kg and parchment Rs 308 per kg. Coffee is cultivated in around 1.20 lakh acre in these four mandals. There are about 50 thousand coffee farmers across the district.

The price of cherry has never crossed Rs 60 a kg in the last four years. However, owing to the increasing demand for Manyam (agency) coffee in the international market, private traders bought it between Rs 80-90 per kg last year. This year, it was initially estimated that the price could be up to Rs 100.

But in a pleasant surprise to the farmers, it reached Rs 140, considered a record. It can be said that the reason for this increase is the market price that the GCC had decided earlier this year. The GCC officials set the price at Rs 135 per kg and private traders competed with it.

But as private traders are giving high prices, farmers are selling the crop to private traders instead of GCC. Private traders raised the purchase price as prices in the international market too have risen sharply. But GCC is not trying to compete with the private traders. Devaraju and Lakshmaiah, farmers of the Lambasingi area, opined that the GCC authorities should also increase the prices in line with the prices in international market.

Meanwhile, the state general secretary of Tribal Coffee Farmers’ Association Killo Surendra said that the problems of the farmers have not been solved just because the prices have increased this year. He accused the governments of not providing timely incentives to tribal coffee farmers.

He demanded immediate release of Rs 60 crores owed by the Central and state governments to the coffee farmers. Surendra recalled that last week, under the leadership of the Tribal Coffee Farmers Association, the farmers took out a rally in Paderu and staged a dharna in front of the ITDA office.

Palaki Lakku, president of the Tribal Coffee Farmers Association, said that financial assistance of Rs 50,000 per acre was requested to develop coffee plantations. He demands insurance to coffee plantations and farmers. He also urged crop loans for those who are cultivating coffee in lands that have been given under forest rights.

ASR district collector Sumeet Kumar ITDA project director R Gopala Krishna said that two months ago, they wrote letters to the Central and the state governments based on the previous petition given by the farmers regarding the arrears related to input subsidies and incentives.

They said that efforts will also be made to give Rs 25 crore loans to the farmers in the new coffee project. Also, the coffee farmers get Rs 2 lakhs life insurance with a premium of Rs 20 per annum.