Coffee Cultivation in India

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Coffee was cultivated long before tea, mainly in Northern India. This is a relatively unknown fact, as India is perceived to be a tea-drinking nation coffee cultivation was seriously undertaken in the 18th Century by British entrepreneurs who turned forests in Southern India into commercial coffee plantations. Coffee cultivation grew and thrived in India during British rule and beyond. The Dutch began to grow coffee in the Malabar region. Still, a significant transition happened when the British led a relentless drive to set up Arabica coffee plantations across the hilly areas of South India, where they found the climatic conditions to be apt for the crop. Some of the important varieties that are cultivated in India are Robusta, CxR and Chandragiri Dwarf.

Coffee is the second most important beverage crop in India. Indian coffee is said to be the finest coffee grown in the shade rather than in direct sunlight anywhere in the world. Indian coffee, grown mostly in southern states under monsoon rainfall conditions, is also termed Indian monsoon coffee. The two varieties of coffee grown are the Arabica and Robusta. The first variety that was introduced in the Baba Budan Giri hill ranges in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka state in the 17th century brought to India by Baba Budan from Saudi.

Nearly 65 percent of the total production comes from Karnataka, while Tamil Nadu contributes approximately 15 percent, and Kerala makes up around 20 percent. It has been estimated that there are more than 210,000 coffee producers in India, the majority of whom are smallholder farmers with plots around two hectares.

 

India is home to 16 unique coffee varieties. Indian coffee is grown under a canopy of thick natural shade in ecologically sensitive regions of the Western and Eastern Ghats. And is traditionally grown in the Western Ghats spread over Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. Coffee cultivation in India has expanded rapidly to non-traditional areas like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha on the Eastern Coast Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh in the North East.

Kerala accounts for 96.70% of Robusta coffee production and a 3.30% share of Arabica coffee as compared to 70.03% of Robusta and 29.97% of Arabica production at the national level.

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