Kathmandu, November 12
Focusing on quality and enhancing the productivity of the coffee sector, the National Tea and Coffee Development Board (NTCDB) has proposed a five-year strategic plan (2016-21). The strategic plan has been submitted to the board committee of NTCDB, which is led by the minister for agricultural development, for approval.
The NTCDB strategy focuses on five major strategic dimensions to realise the ultimate goal of commercial farming of Nepali Arabica coffee in all 41 districts of the country that have been identified as suitable for coffee cultivation.
According to Sheshkanta Gautam, executive director of NTCDB, the strategy focuses on Arabica variety of coffee, which is largely being cultivated in the country and can fetch comparatively high prices as compared to Robusta coffee, which is also cultivated in the country.
According to the latest available data, coffee is cultivated on 2,381 hectares of land and the total annual production hovered around 463 tonnes in 2014-15, as per NTCDB.
“There is high demand for Nepali coffee in the international market but the country has failed to tap the opportunities due to low production volume,” said Gautam.
The strategy developed by NTCDB, with support of the European Union-funded Trade and Private Sector Development Programme under the Ministry of Commerce, is expected to enhance the production base of coffee.
According to the strategic plan, NTCDB in coordination with the Nepal Agriculture Research Council and the Coffee and Tea Development Section under the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), will support the research works and carry out various activities aimed at making farmers aware about higher yields from coffee production and motivate them to take up coffee plantation in larger areas of land in the 41 districts identified as being suitable for coffee cultivation.
Similarly, various activities to manage the pests and diseases in coffee plants will be designed and implemented shortly, through which NTCDB expects to boost production and quality of Nepali coffee.
The strategic plan has also talked about amending National Coffee Policy-2003 to motivate farmers towards quality production and increase export of coffee in the international market to yield foreign currency. The strategic plan has identified the need to revise the existing coffee policy also for developing linkages in national as well as domestic markets, increase sales of Nepali coffee to address the growing demand and maintain the image of Nepali organic coffee in the international market.
Likewise, the plan has also emphasised on formulating a separate policy to regulate all concerned non-governmental organisations — national and international — and coffee sector-related activities through NTCDB with an aim of consolidating the benefits to the smallholders.
On the other hand, proper management of coffee subsector development programmes and coordination with relevant stakeholders is expected to lead to achievement of efficiency in negotiating and justifying organic certification, fair trade recognition and increased sales in both national and international markets, according to the strategic plan.
The strategic plan has also highlighted the crucial aspect of market promotion and trademark registration of Himalayan Coffee in various export destinations. Currently, Korea, Japan, China and Germany are the major export markets of Nepali coffee.
Elevate production area: Study
KATHMANDU: A recent study has recommended elevating the coffee cultivation area as the currently cultivated areas will face challenges due to global warming after two decades. The study titled, ‘Suitability Analysis and Projected Climate Change Impact on Banana and Coffee Production Zones in Nepal’ has suggested to elevate coffee production area to around 1,350 metres because the temperature there after 20 to 30 years will be similar to that of 1,100 metres, where the coffee is being cultivated in the country at present. “It would be better to elevate new farming areas as the country is planning to embark on a long-term strategy for coffee sector development,” said Juerg Merz, who is currently serving as programme adviser at HELVETAS Nepal.
A version of this article appears in print on November 13, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.