TechnoServe Bolsters India’s Economy with CoffeeThe coffee industry continues to flourish as the product dominates markets in most parts of the world. Due to its popularity, coffee holds its economic value well, providing sustainable income to those in the industry. India produces a portion of this commodity. However, some regions lack the infrastructure necessary for the industry to prosper. One nonprofit called TechnoServe bolsters India’s economy with coffee.

Andhra Pradesh

TechnoServe provides an avenue through which the farmers of Andhra Pradesh, a town in India, can grow coffee more efficiently. This region of India is a nontraditional growing region. Coffee production in India originated from a desire to prevent further felling of trees for cultivation. The coffee industry provided a means of employment for the locals who live in the region. While this region has viable production capabilities, small land sizes and poor agricultural practices limit the yield potential. TechnoServe works alongside these farmers to solve these problems and assist in expanding the market potential.

Coffee was introduced to Andhra Pradesh, India, in the ’60s by the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department (APFD) to end the slash and burn agriculture that dominated the region. Ideally, by introducing a new type of cultivation, fewer trees would be cut and burned. The APFD hopes this will protect the forest and encourage sustainable communities within the region. This area specializes in Araku Coffee — globally recognized for its high quality and popularity. The Specialty Coffee Association rated Araku Coffee as a world-renowned coffee with an 88-90 out of 100. Even with the coffee’s success in the global market, many farmers still struggle to experience individual economic stability.

Impact of TechnoServe

One aspect of coffee cultivation TechnoServe hopes to address is the picking of coffee cherries. Unlike a typical harvest, coffee cherries ripen at different rates, making it imperative for farmers to pick only the individual ripe fruit. This labor-intensive task requires focused knowledge of coffee ripening and the skills to recognize when the coffee is ready to be harvested. When farmers pick underripe fruit, it lessens the overall quality of the coffee produced. Because this is a nontraditional growing region, many farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India, do not have access to the knowledge necessary to improve these practices. TechnoServe’s assistance has provided these farmers with training and knowledge to bolster economic potential.

One result of TechnoServe’s influence is that farmers no longer need to rely on village middlemen for economic stability. Due to a lack of consistent income, some farmers ended up indebted to middlemen who were sought out to help families do things such as send their children to school. This debt trap limited the potential of many who found themselves incapable of digging themselves out.

Another aspect of TechnoServe’s training program is the involvement of the whole family. Palika, a farmer from Andhra Pradesh, India, explains how — when he wanted to expand his business and learn new coffee cultivation techniques — his wife also learned. Learning together built a partnership between the two with a common goal as they moved up the value chain.

Importance of TechnoServe

India’s coffee market, historically, remains export-oriented. However, with the increasing popularity and usage of small-scale farmers, facilitating these exports prevents farmers from maintaining a decent profit. Some farmers lose at least 10% of the production potential to local traders. TechnoServe hopes to end these losses by utilizing farmer producer organizations (FPOs) to take the product to market.

Utilizing the FPO market for coffee sales will improve the economic potential for farmers like Palika who hope to make their businesses profitable. Through the transformation of cultivation practices in Andhra Pradesh, India, Technoserve bolsters India’s economy and continues to instill hope for the future of Araku’s coffee industry.

– Kate Lucht
Photo: Flickr