Nagaland coffee

Eastern Mirror Desk

Dimapur, April 3: Despite Nagaland’s economy being an agrarian one, with more than 60% of its population depending on agriculture, coffee production in the state took a backseat for many years. But recently, because of the initiation of the Land Resource department and a private company called Noble Cause from South Africa, Nagaland Coffee is set to brew up a storm abroad.

Dr. Pieter Vermuellen of Noble Cause first came to India in 1997 and heard about abandoned coffee farms in Nagaland. A cultural anthropologist, Vermuellen said that it was through his father, who was a Christian missionary, that he got connected to Nagaland.

“This coffee project has the potential to impact Nagaland’s economy in great ways with its export to South Africa, especially in helping farmers build a sustainable livelihood,” said Vermuellen while taking the example of Ethiopia and the boost it had, making it one of the wealthiest countries in Africa because of its coffee production.

During a telephonic conversation with Eastern Mirror, Vermuellen expressed confidence that a sustainable long-term economic development for generations could be achieved for coffee farmers in the state.

“If farmers take up coffee farming, the income generated can last anywhere between 30-50 years,” he said. The challenge, he said, would be the first five years when there would be no harvest as coffee takes time to cultivate.

He informed that this year would be the third time of export with 11.5 MT of harvest and expressed gratitude to the department of Land Resource for “investing time to make the quality better.”

“The district project officers from the department have invested their time in training the farmers which has improved the quality immensely,” said Vermuellen.

The coffee, he informed, is sent to the coffee mill where it is dried, peeled, and polished after which it is graded and packed.

He also said that apart from South Africa, the coffee is also exported to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; and informed that exporting to the rest of the Gulf was also in the pipeline.

Renben Lotha, the director of DoLR told this reporter that the vision of the department, along with the coffee board of India, was to cover 50,000 hectares of coffee cultivation by 2030.

Lotha informed that the department is taking up coffee plantation in the existing ecosystem under the shade of other plantations, which he said maintains the flora and fauna of the environment.

This factor, he informed, also effects the aroma and taste of the coffee making it unique and different in each district—that is Kohima, Mokokchung, Zunheboto, Dimapur, Wokha.

“Nagaland is blessed with highly favourable eco climatic conditions that even remote places in Nagaland produces good quality coffee,” maintained Lotha.

While there are two varieties of coffee being produced in the state—Robusta in the lower altitude areas and Arabica in the higher areas—the director informed that Mokokchung and Kohima have the highest demand.


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