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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Bahia: Champion of Brazil Coffee Yields

Brazil - In a recent survey by the Brazilian research firm, FNP Consultoria, the new growing areas of the Highlands of West Bahia exceeded by far all other growing regions in productivity per hectare. The production of all coffee farms in the region averaged a yield of 65 bags of 60 kilos per hectare in comparison with the national average of 16.8 bags.

The new coffee frontier in Bahia which cultivation began about 10 years ago, is estimated to have reached plantings of 12.7 hectares and continues to grow. Trees in production are expected to produce about 500,000 bags this crop year in comparison with 275,000 bags last crop.

The planting system in the region is believed to be the most technically advanced in coffee cultivation. The plantings are principally based on irrigation by a central “pivo” covering 100 hectares of circular density planted trees. The Highlands have a flat topography with abundant water and the trees are planted in a circular design for “pivo” irrigation and low-cost mechanical harvesting. The soil is weak in comparison with the dark purple land (terra roxo) of the growing areas of São Paulo and Minas Gerais but nutrients and defensives are added during irrigation to assure good health and good yields. This increases operational costs but the high yields and land costs offset the extra expenses. The price of thehectare in West Bahia is currently US$150 in comparison with US$3000 in the São Paulo Mogiana zone.

Luiz Suplicy Hafers, former president of the Brazilian Rural Society and member of one of the traditional coffee families with a centennial farm in parana, entered the West Bahia coffee scene in 1994 with plantings of 5,000 trees. In a recent interview, Hafers pointed out the near perfect climate advantages of the region, free from frost and drought and with warm, dry days during harvesting and preparation. He says, “In West Bahia, coffee grows with permanent sunshine the entire year. “ Firm in his conviction of the potential for Bahia coffee, Hafers ignores the present crisis and is making plans for planting another “pivo” of 100 hectares and says he knows of other growers in the region. who are doing the same.

The high yields in the region guarantee a competitive production cost which, by the survey, is estimated to be US$43 per bag against a calculated cost of US$50 per bag for production from the Mogiana zone.

With respect to quality, trade information indicates that with each crop the quality and preparation of coffees from the region are improving and with an increasing production of washed and semi-washed qualities. It should be noted that in the last ICO “Coffees of Excellence” promotion, three West Bahian coffees were selected for the International Specialty Coffee Contest. - By Harry Jones

Rise in Sale of Adulterated Tea Worries ITA
India - The Indian Tea Association (ITA) is alarmed with the rise in the sale of adulterated tea in south India and has initiated dialogue with state governments to put an end to this. ITA officials met senior officials of Karnataka government to apprise them of the situation in the state. “Recent studies carried out by food-certification laboratories indicate that some of the brands have been adulterated with colouring agents like Tartrazine or sunset yellow,” ITA sources said.

While exact statistics in terms of quantity of adulterated tea being sold in Karnataka is not available, studies have shown that the share of small brands (which includes small and adulterated tea) has been on the rise. This was pegged at 6.3 per cent in during 1999, rose to 11.9 per cent in 2000 and stood at 25.3 per cent during the first six months of 2001.

ICO Releases Quality Program Standards
United Kingdom - The International Coffee Organization (ICO) confirmed that members had considered and approved a resolution to implement a Quality Improvement Program that will go into effect later this year, reported the CoffeeNetwork.

The program will comprise a first stage that shall start on Oct. 1, 2002, while an assessment review of its progress should be exercised by Sept. 2003, the release said.

The minimum standards for exportable coffee are as follows:

  • Arabica exporting members shall not export coffee that has in excess of 86 defects per 300 gram sample (New York green coffee classification/Brazilian method equivalent, and for robusta, has in excess of 150 defects per 300 gram (Vietnam, Indonesia, or equivalent).

  • For both arabica and robusta, coffee must not have moisture content below 8% or in excess of 12.5%, measured using the ISO 6673 method.
It said that to meet the group’s objectives, members shall develop and implement national measures, which ensure that no exports of green coffee fail to meet those standards, and that sub-standard green coffee is not included in the manufacture of processed coffee (roasted or soluble) that is exported.

The London-based ICO hopes that by improving the quality of coffee, consumption of the commodity will rise over the long run. The initiative comes amid depressed international prices that have caused severe financial hardship among thousands of coffee growers around the world.

The resolution was adopted during meetings held in London last week among the 45 exporting countries and the 18 importing members of the ICO.

Sri Lanka Promises Tax and Customs Reforms
Sri Lanka - Falling revenues helped inflate last year’s budget deficit in Sri Lanka to 10.5 percent of gross domestic product as the economy contracted by 0.6 percent, reported Reuters recently.

Businessmen her called for a new customs act and 24-hour clearing for some industries.

Customs revenues have been hit by a sharp drop in external trade, with imports falling much faster than exports because of the global recession and the ethnic war.

The government accepted the need to allow prices at the weekly tea auctions in Colombo to be quoted in U.S. dollars rather than rupees.

The conference called for the suspension of plans to privatize the Ceylon Electricity Board, the state-owned monopoly whose big losses have been blamed for an acute power crisis and daily blackouts.

Tea & Coffee - March/April 2002
Theta Ridge Coffee


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