Organic coffee sector held back by lack of expertise

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 17, 2016-

Nepal’s organic coffee sector growth has been constrained by inadequate technical support for commercialisation and high cost of organic certification, producers and traders said here on Wednesday.

Unhealthy price competition and increased risk of disease are other problems threatening the high export potential of Nepali coffee, they said. 

“More and more farmers are producing organic coffee. But lack of technicians and pest infestations like ‘white stem borer’ and ‘leaf dust’ have been affecting output,” said Dol Raj Adhikari, chairman of the Coffee Cooperative Association, speaking at the 12th National Coffee Day.

“As chemical substances cannot be used in organic farming, poor knowledge among farmers to cure diseases in time has been affecting organic coffee production,” he said. 

According to government statistics, Nepali coffee production fulfils only 5 percent of export demand. Demand for Nepali coffee in the international market amounts to around 7,000-8,000 tonnes annually, but the country’s output totals only 434 tonnes. 

Adhikari said that high cost of organic certification had also been hurting coffee producers. According to him, organic certification costs around Rs500,000 annually. “In addition, the organic criteria set by importing countries differ widely,” he said.

The association has been exporting coffee to Germany and it has received organic certification from the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture (Nasaa), an Australian and international organic certifying agency and trade association. “However, South Korea and some other countries do not accept products certified by Nasaa,” he said.

Santabir Lama, managing director of Everest Coffee, said that unhealthy price competition had been affecting exports of Nepali coffee. “A number of exporters are selling the product at high prices in the international market but others are forced to sell at nominal prices,” said Lama who exports Nepali coffee to Japan. He added that Nepali coffee fetched $8-10 per kg in the international market. 

Bidur Dahal, another coffee exporter, said that poor quality had also been affecting the market of Nepali coffee. “Many farmers and traders have been mixing substandard products in order to increase the quantity to fill the foreign buyers’ order,” he said. 

Dahal added that producers and exporters do not often pay attention to the harvesting of well ripened coffee fruits, processing of green beans and good quality packaging materials to maintain the quality of Nepali coffee. 

Published: 17-11-2016 08:31

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