India's coffee crop facing threat from white stem borer as dry weather in main growing regions helping pest spread

LOS ANGELES , May 21, 2012 () – India's coffee crop during the next marketing year is facing an increased threat from the white stem borer because of dry weather in the country’s main growing regions that has aided the pest’s advance, The Wall Street Journal reported May 21.

Although next year’s coffee crop could be curbed by the spread of white stem borer, it is too early to make predications regarding India’s total coffee production or exports for the upcoming marketing year, industry officials said. The first forecast concerning these figures will likely be unveiled in June.

This year, most areas have seen an incidence rate for white stem borer that is approximately 25% higher than normal. The incidence rate for white stem borer over the past three to four years was slightly lower than normal, according to Karnataka Planters Association Chairman Marvin Rodrigues.

In 10 to 15 years, India could potentially cease being ‘a producer of fine arabica coffees’ if the threat posed by the white stem borer remains unresolved, Rodrigues added.

The arrival of the monsoon rains in June could potentially curb the white stem borers’ advance, said Anil Kumar Bhandari of the state-run Coffee Board.

Even if India’s coffee bean production falls during the next marketing year, it will not likely provide price support for the product. Global demand for coffee has been week because of ongoing economic issues. In particular, coffee demand has been particularly weak in Europe, which accounts for roughly half of India’s total number of coffee shipments.

The India state of Karnataka, which produces roughly 70% of India’s total coffee output, is the largest coffee producer in India. Kerala and Tamil Nadu, both of which are neighboring states to Karnataka, are also large coffee producing states.

India, which is the third-largest coffee producer in Asia, exports nearly 70% of its total coffee output. During the current marketing year, India will most likely produce approximately 320,000 tonnes of coffee beans, the Coffee Board said.

The primary source of this article is The Wall Street Journal, New York, New York, on May 21.

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