NEPALI COFFEE INDUSTRY AND ITS POTENTIAL | FACTS | FIGURES | INSIGHTS | COFFEE CULTIVATION | STARTING COFFEE PROCESSING INDUSTRY IN NEPAL( DRY< ROASTED COFFEE)
“Coffee plantation is still a new adventure in Nepal. In 1938 AD, a hermit Mr. Hira Giri had brought some seeds of Coffee from Sindu Province of Myanmar (the then Burma) and had planted in Aapchaur of Gulmi District for the first time in Nepal. The crop remained unnoticed as a curiosity crop until 1970s. Then it spread from one farmer to another as a curiosity plant for about 4 decades.”
Coffee is a high value cash crop with environmental importance and is being popular among Nepalese since last few decades. It has been spreading in over 40 districts of the middle hills of Nepal.
Nepal Coffee is considered speciality Coffee for its distinct flavour aroma and body as it is grown in higher altitude, away from the main Coffee growing Capricorn and Cancer belt (beyond 230 latitudes). Coffee produced in Nepal is Organic & Fair-trade and is readily accepted as a Specialty Coffee in specific international markets.
More than 20,000 smallholders have planted coffee in about 1450 ha of land with a production of 265MT dry parchment in the year 2007-08. Majority of growers are small and poor farmers, usually, no chemical fertilizer and insecticide/ pesticide applied. The majority does not even weed and manure coffee plants. As the Coffee originates from the subtropical forest eco-system of the Ethiopian high lands, where it grows under the shade of a variety of trees. Farmers have created coffee’s original growing conditions on diversified agro-forestry systems creating the foundations for organic coffee cultivation. For its vibrant quality, Nepali coffee have been exported to different parts of the world mostly to Japan, America, and Korea and European countries since last many years. Of the total production, 65% is exported and the rest consumed in the domestic market. There is an increasing demand for Nepal Coffee for its speciality quality.
Coffee produced in Nepal is Organic and fair trade
Coffee is relatively a new cash crop started growing in Nepal almost with no inorganic fertilizers and pesticides use. It could be an important occupation in the rural economics with massive participation of marginal, poor and downtrodden class of the rural communities. Additionally, it could be an important means for the soil conservation, biodiversity maintenance and watershed management in the mid-hills of Nepal.
Initially, coffee was planted as a contour plant for soil erosion control and other environmental protection practices. So the farmers regard coffee as an easy crop to grow, and agronomically less demanding. Usually, no chemical fertilizers and insecticides/pesticides are applied. However, in those areas where infrastructure (roads, communication and other services) is well-developed farmers might be using some external inputs like chemical fertilizer and pesticide in companion/intercrops especially in vegetables and fruits where commercial production of these crops exist. In Nepal, the majority of coffee producers are resource-poor smallholder farmers. Coffee is predominantly planted in upland area as an additional/extra crop without disturbing the existing cropping system and on steep hillsides where other crops do not perform well under low input and low management conditions. There are few farmers who have started planting coffee under shade in larger number replacing the maize crop.
Production, processing and marketing of coffee in Nepal
The coffee plantation is still a new adventure in Nepal. In 1938 AD, a hermit Mr Hira Giri had brought some seeds of Coffee from Sindu Province of Myanmar (the then Burma) and had planted in Aapchaur of Gulmi District for the first time in Nepal. The crop remained unnoticed as a curiosity crop until the 1970s. Then it spread from one farmer to another as a curiosity plant for about 4 decades.
In the late seventies, expansion of Coffee as a commercial crop to some extent took place when the Government of Nepal imported Coffee seed from India for distribution. The major shift to commercial Coffee production took place in mid-eighties. After the establishment of Nepal Coffee Company (NeCCo) in Manigram, Rupandehi district, in 1983/84, the Coffee producers were able to sell Coffee. NeCCo used to collect dry cherry from the Coffee producers and processed the Coffee for the domestic market. Until early 2000, Coffee producers were not very sure of Coffee is a source of income or income-generating crop due to the market problem. However, after the year 2002, a substantial increase in the export and also increase in domestic market consumption to some extent motivated Coffee producers to consider Coffee as a major income-generating crop.
Respecting the interest of people on Coffee and favourable climatic conditions for its cultivation. Ministry of Agriculture decided to launch the Coffee Development Programme in the country. The Government provided technical and financial support to the farmers; its cultivation has gradually spread to about 40 districts of the middle hills of Nepal. Lalitpur, Gulmi, Palpa, Shyangja, Kaski, Sidhupalchowk, Kavre, are some districts known for Coffee production.
Area and Production of Coffee in Nepal
Coffee can be commercially produced in many parts of the country. However, there is great potentiality in the mid hilly region for organic Coffee production as it has got suitable climate, topography, soil, relative humidity, temperature and rainfall for Arabica Coffee. Some districts like Gulmi, Palpa, Argakhanchi, Lalitpur, Tanahu, Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, Lamjung, Kaski, Gorkha, Syangja, Parbat and Baglung are successfully growing and producing Coffee beans and is increasing gradually. This will certainly help in diversifying process and will increase the income of the farmers as well as other individuals involved in Coffee processing and marketing enterprise.
Coffee Processing in Nepal
All Nepali Coffee is of Arabica variety, a mix of bourbon and typical, grown above 1000 meters up to 1600 meters altitude with organic and eco-friendly practices by small farmers. Selective hand picking of fully ripen cherries is done and pulped right after harvesting with mini hand pulper (wet processing) with necessary additional procedures. However, for domestic and home consumption dry processing method is also adopted where cherries are harvested and dried in sun at the farm level.