POKHARA, March 10: Farmers of various districts of Gandaki Province are worried as their coffee plants are not bearing fruits.
Local farmers say leaves are falling and coffee plants are drying up. They do know whether it is due to disease or pest attacks.
"Coffee plants are drying up, but we do not know the cause yet," said Phani Narayan Aryal, chairperson of Coffee Cooperatives Association, Syangja. "It might be due to cold weather."
Chandra Puri, chief of National Tea and Coffee Development Board Regional Office, Pokhara, said the impacts of climate change are being seen in agriculture sector. "We started noticing changes in coffee plants from mid-December. It started becoming chronic from mid-January," Puri added.
Preliminary losses in the province have been estimated at Rs 60 million, according to the regional office. According to conservative estimates, local farmers have lost Rs 50 million in fresh cherries and Rs 10 million in coffee nursery.
Commercial coffee farming is done in Kaski, Syangja, Parbat, Baglung, Tanahun, Gorkha, Lamjung, Nawalpur and Myagdi of Gandaki province. Last year, the province produced 908 tons of fresh cherry. The production is estimated to fall to 385 tons this year.
According to Puri, production will go down by nearly 500 tons this year. It monetary terms, it will be around Rs 50 million.
Coffee production Syangja – the main coffee producer of the province – is estimated to drop by nearly 100 tons. Last year, the district had produced 256 tons of fresh cherry. The district alone will suffer loss of Rs 12.7 million, according to Aryal.
Anand Subedi, chairperson of Coffee Cooperatives Association, Kaski, said 36,000 coffee plants are fully destroyed, while 27,500 others are partially affected. Similarly, 98,000 coffee plants with fruit are fully destroyed and 100,000 coffee plants with fruits have been partially affected. Last year, Kaski had produced 30 tons of fresh cherries. The production is estimated to drop to 10 tons this year.
Nawalpur, which had produced 3 tons of fresh cherries last year, is estimated to grow only 1 ton this year. Around 200,000 coffee plants in the district have been affected.
Meanwhile, local farmers have demanded compensation for the loss in coffee production. Speaking at a meeting organized by National Tea and Coffee Development Board Regional Office, Pokhara, they asked the provincial government to immediately deploy technical teams to identify the reasons that are causing coffee plants to dry up. "The government should conduct needful study and find solution to the problem at the earliest possible," Subedi added.