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Is Nagaland poised to be the next hotspot for Indian coffee?

The state's goverment has alloted nearly 10,000 hectares of land for growing arabica and robusta

Nagaland coffee is exported to various parts of the world. (Photo: Christina Rumpf, Unsplash)

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The Nagaland government is undertaking coffee plantation on nearly 10,000 hectares of land and the organic beverage grown in the northeastern state is now being exported to European and Middle East countries, an official said.

Around 8,412.49 hectares and 1,419.7 hectares of land are covered by plantations of Arabica and Robusta coffee respectively, the official said.

The state government has set a target to cover 50,000 hectares of land by 2030, he said.

With Nagaland having micro-climatic condition, the soil is very suitable for coffee, the official claimed.

Coffee plantation was first started in Nagaland in the early 1990s but it was not a success then as there was no market linkage with the project, the official said.

In October 2014 the Nagaland government resumed the revival of coffee plantations throughout the state with Land Resources Development (LRD) as the nodal agency and now the organic coffee grown in this hill state is being exported, said Additional Director of LRD, Albert Ngullie.

Kohima district has the highest coverage of 2649.69 hectares of land while Zunheboto district has 1025.9 hectares of land under organic coffee plantations.

"Our target is to make it a successful plantation and the farmers have to benefit," he said.

Under the post-COVID-19 economic recovery plan supported by North Eastern Council (NEC), 360 coffee pulping machines were procured and distributed across the state.

The pulper caters to about 1,000 hectares of coffee plantation clusters in the state which are at the threshold stage for bearing cherries, he said.

The LRD is carrying out coffee plantation activities with the support of the state government and NABARD while the technical and management support has come from Coffee Board, he said, adding that even the seeds are produced from Coffee Board certified nurseries.

The Coffee Board is supporting the department in providing training to the farmers and also conducting exposure trips to other states, he said, adding that the Coffee Board has also been supporting the coffee growers with government aided subsidies through direct benefit transfers.

Joint Director LRD Banchamo Ngullie said plantation, quality production and market linkage are being looked into by the department.

In order to transform the economy of the state and alleviate poverty, coffee is the alternative and for that the government needs to make sufficient budget allocation under state funds, he said.

LRD Project Officer (Coffee) Dr Menuosietuo Tseikha said the department is taking utmost care on providing quality coffee seeds and also ensuring reasonable market prices to the coffee growers.

While the department is engaged in expanding coffee growing areas, he said it is also engaged with Nagaland Coffee, which exports the coffee product of the state to international markets.

Also read | 3 ways to whip that perfect cup of morning coffee

The LRD is not only engaged in promoting coffee farmers, but it is also extending barista training to promote coffee-based entrepreneurship among educated unemployed youths. It also helps in establishment of coffee bars across the state.

Deputy Director of Coffee Board, Jorhat, Assam, P P Chaudhury said that the Board has been supporting around 400 coffee growers in a year covering around 200 hectares of land.

It is also providing market linkage by bringing in players from various parts of the country, he said.

Coffee Board has schemes like providing seedlings to raise nurseries and infrastructural support during harvest, he said, adding that in order to facilitate the growers fetch better prices it is also bringing in private players to the state.

Though production wise Nagaland's production is limited, the quality of coffee is "very good" and meeting the international standard, said Chaudhury while appreciating the LRD Nagaland in its endeavour to promote coffee plantation in the state.

Proprietor of Nagaland Coffee Pvt Ltd, Vivito Yeptho, who is also a certified barista himself, said that he started to venture into coffee through Dr Pieter Vermeulen from South Africa and did the first export in 2017 with a mere 4 tonne while the highest has been 11 tonne per season.

It is slowly picking up now but during the COVID-19 pandemic there has been no business while the company is working to export at least 20 tonne of coffee by 2023, he said.

Maintaining that Nagaland’s coffee is recognized among the best in the world, he also highlighted that Nagaland coffee won the silver plaque at the third annual Aurora International Taste Challenge, which was held in September 2021 in South Africa.

Yeptho said Nagaland Coffee is exported to countries like South Africa, Bahrain, Dubai, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and also South East Asia.

Nagaland Coffee Private Limited is the sole exporter of Nagaland coffee. The company signed an MoU with the Government of Nagaland to distribute and export Nagaland coffee abroad.

Founder of Ete Coffee Roasters, Lichan Humstoe said coffee has the potential to revolutionize the economy of Nagaland and alleviate the living standards of the farmers. 

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