Indian coffee will soon tell the story of its distinct settings

The Coffee Board plans to launch a sustainability code for Indian coffee, which will help producers share the sustainability story with customers overseas.

The Coffee Board’s secretary and CEO, KG Jagadeesha, said the board was working on such a code, which should be launched within the next six months to a year.

“It will be free and any farmer who signs up to the scheme and meets the standards will be able to use the logo and code on their coffee bags to tell the sustainability story,” he said.

Lack of distinction

Jagadeesha said that although there are many certifications available such as Rainforest and FairTrade among others, they are considered costly for Indian growers.

“For the payment made for these certifications, farmers will expect returns, which is not happening. Some of them are difficult to meet because they have fixed criteria all over the world. These certificates do not recognize the uniqueness of Indian coffee. They give the same certification in Brazil where the forest is cleared and the coffee grown in the open. They make no distinction for Indian coffee,” he said.

“We grow coffee under the thick shade of trees and all the biodiversity in the western and eastern ghats is supported by coffee. We don’t use as much fertilizer as others. They do not consider the sustainability aspect of Indian coffee and that is the limitation of private codes. Whenever we present to foreign delegations that Indian coffee represents these distinct parameters, they say that when your coffees arrive, the bags don’t tell the story. They say you have a better story than anyone else, but the bags just say it’s Indian coffee.

Represent best practices

“So we thought about developing a code that outlines the best practices we have – the sustainable culture that respects the environment and incorporates the best practices from all the other codes, so that it becomes acceptable. We will implement this through our extension officers.

“It is not mandatory for farmers. However, it is zero cost. When they apply, we will enroll them in the program and gradually help them to comply with the code,” he said.

“The certification is not for extra income but to convey our story and sell it in the international market. As a result, the perception of Indian coffee will become good and we might start getting better prices,” Jagadeesha added.

A producer following the practices can display the logo and the code on the coffee bags. Anyone scanning the logo can access details of all good agricultural practices followed by the individual grower in that particular area and the curator. “We will popularize the code through all world events,” he said.

Sustainable practices

“Around 90% of the practices Indian growers follow are sustainable, but we’re not selling the story. We want to ensure that farmers fully comply with and enforce the code globally. Moreover, the code will be free for farmers, non-competitive and bringing everyone under one umbrella,” Jagadeesha said.

Coffee Board has already started work and plans to launch the code within a stipulated time.

“We have prepared a project with in-house expertise and are in contact with international agencies specializing in the development of such a code. We are working on it aggressively.

“Once the program is developed, we will consult with producers and make them compliant. Anyone complying with the program can use the logo. he said.

Published on

September 20, 2022

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