The government will relook at the coffee law to make it suitable as per the present needs of the sector and facilitate its growth, the commerce ministry said on Saturday.
The issue was discussed, among other things, in an interaction of Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal with coffee growers, roasters, exporters and other stakeholders at Coffee Board Head Office, Bengaluru.
Coffee growers expressed concerns over losing their lands in view of the notices issued by banks under Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act.
The minister assured coffee growers that the issue will be favourably discussed with other ministries concerned and a suitable solution would be found at an early date, it said.
The present Coffee Act was enacted in 1942 and has many provisions which are redundant and are impediments to the coffee trade.
“Therefore, it was decided in the meeting to completely relook at the provisions of the Act and to remove the provisions which are restrictive and regulatory in nature so as to bring out a simple Act that suits the present needs of the coffee sector and facilitates its growth,” the statement said.
Several exporters have raised concern that due to increase in international freight rates, the Indian agri-exports to several destinations have become uncompetitive.
They sought increased assistance under Transport and Marketing Assistance Scheme (TMA).
Goyal assured the exporters that a special package to assist agri-exports at least for one year will be considered under the scheme to tide over the present crisis.
On the issue of Coffee White Stem Borer disease, the minister said a request will be made to Agriculture Department and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to initiate advanced research on this.
Further, the Coffee Board requested the minister to announce restructuring of all existing loans into a single term loan with long repayment period and also extend fresh working capital with soft interest.
Goyal assured them that a feasible package will be worked out after discussion with ministries concerned, it added.
The minister has directed Coffee Board to develop a dashboard for real time updation of extension activities including field visits, workshops, demonstrations, seminars to be undertaken by the extension personnel in the farmers’ fields and to effectively monitor the same.
Dispelling stakeholders’ apprehension that Coffee Board would be closed, Goyal said the government has no such intentions.
However, in order to provide better services to coffee growers especially small growers, it is proposed to shift Coffee Board from Ministry of Commerce to Ministry of Agriculture, the statement said adding this will ensure that benefits of all the schemes for agriculture sector are extended to coffee growers.