Indra Bahadur Kunwar, 73, poses in front of a coffee plant at his farm in Palungmaidani of Ribdi Rural Municipality-7, Palpa.
PALPA, Sept 17: Despite high demand of coffee both in internal and foreign markets, the country is producing coffee far below its capacity.
Farmers say the production of coffee is even declining in some areas of Gulmi and Palpa districts in the western Nepal in recent times.
The decline is largely attributed to farmers' migration and lack of supportive environment in the remote areas.
The coffee produced in Palpa and Gulmi districts is even exported abroad. Around one ton coffee was exported to Korea through Coffee Producers' Cooperative of Gulmi in the last fiscal year, FY 2018/19. That year, Palpa produced and sold 16.6 ton parchment coffee and 3.3 ton dry cherry coffee in local markets. Similarly, Gulmi produced and sold 1.5 ton parchment coffee and 7 ton dry cherry coffee. In the FY 2017/18, 7 ton parchment coffee and 1.5 ton dry cherry were sold from the district.
Despite difficulty in production, the market for coffee is attractive, according to farmers. "Market has never been a problem for us," said Iman Singh Kunwar, a coffee producer.
Coffee farmers are being supported by national and international organizations including Helvetas Nepal, District Agriculture Development Office, Tea and Coffee Development Board, Beautiful Coffee Nepal, and Coffee Cooperatives. The project of Beautiful Coffee Nepal, a non-government organization, was completed last year in Palpa and Gulmi.
Parshu Ram Acharya, who has been involved in commercial coffee farming in Gulmi, said that though foreign consumers liked the taste of Nepali coffee, the government of Nepal has shown little interest towards supporting production and export of Nepali coffee.
He said that if the government could promote coffee production, the potential of coffee farming was very high in Nepal. "We can increase production but for that, we need support from local units and the provincial and federal governments," he said.
Kamal Khanal, manager of Coffee Cooperative Association of Palpa, said that in the FY 2018/19, 16.6 ton parchment coffee and 3.3 ton dry cherry coffee were produced. In the FY 2017/18, 19 ton parchment coffee and 4 ton dry cherry coffee were produced. Khanal said that the production was affected by hailstones in the last FY.
"We have been getting assistance from various organizations for coffee plantation, care, seed production and processing. We also give 50 percent grant. However, only 29,250 coffee seeds were planted in the last FY," said Khanal.
Meanwhile, Barangdi Siddha Kalika Coffee Prodcution Cooperative has also started a coffee processing factory. "There is high demand of coffee in the internal market as well," Khanal said. He said that the coffee produced in Gulmi and Palpa is exported to Korea, Japan, Germany and America.
"Every year, around one ton coffee is exported from Palpa and Gulmi," said Bhaskar Gyawali, secretary of District Cooperative Association, Gulmi.
Coffee is produced from Tansen, Nisdi, Mathagadhi, Rambha, Tinau, Bagnashkali, Ribdikot and Rainadevi Chhahara area of Palpa. Similarly, Ruru, Gulmi, Satyawati, Chhatrakot, Dhurkot, Madane and Musikot rural municipalities of Gulmi produce coffee.
A kilogram of processed coffee is sold to consumers for Rs 1,500. In Palpa district, parchment coffee is sold for Rs 550 and dry cherry coffee for Rs 170. There are 12 coffee cooperatives and 29 collection centers in the district. In the cooperatives, 552 farmers are engaged. Similarly, in the coffee production group, 150 farmers are engaged.
Apart from Gulmi and Palpa, coffee is commercially produced in Syangja, Kaski, Nuwakot, Kavrepalanchowk, Sindhupalchowk, Lalitpur, Lamjung, Gorkha, and Parbat districts.