Nagaland coffee brews hope

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Guwahati, September 5: Coffee connoisseurs in South Africa have given fresh hope to Nagaland’s vision of reviving coffee cultivation and provide options to jhum cultivators.
The state, where coffee has proved to be a “failed crop” for 30 years, exported 14 metric tonnes of organically grown coffee, under the brand name Naga Coffee, to Noble Cause, a South African company, in the past two years following its decision in 2015 to restart coffee cultivation. Altogether seven metric tonnes of coffee was exported on Friday through the Naga Coffee Private Limited, a subsidiary of the South African company, led by a group of Naga youths.
“After the government decided to retry coffee cultivation, we got seeds from Coffee Board of India for fresh cultivation. In the meantime, we signed an MoU with Noble Cause in 2017, following which, we exported seven metric tonnes of coffee from our old farms. At present, we have around 600 hectares of coffee cultivation and we want to extend it to 60,000 hectares by 2030. We hope to continue our exports to South Africa as we have a 30-year agreement with Noble Cause and there is good response from the growing coffee market there,” Nagaland land resources department director Hoto Yeptho told The Telegraph.
Although the US, Japan, Brazil and the UK are the main coffee markets, demand for premium quality coffee is increasing in South Africa.
Nearly 1,000 farmers are involved in coffee cultivation in Mokokchung, Zuheboto, Wokha, Mon and Kohima districts. The state government has decided to encourage more farmers to take up coffee cultivation and give up “haphazard” jhum cultivation.
“Coffee is a permanent cultivation and it is a shade-loving crop, so it grows under the trees. It grows in the existing ecosystem so it helps in mitigation of climate change. Those farmers who have adopted coffee cultivation have given up jhum as coffee is more profitable,” Yeptho said.
Vivito Yeptho, one of the directors of Naga Coffee Private Limited, said the organically grown coffee is roasted and packaged locally, providing jobs to local youths. The company has also offered franchise to an air force pilot who started a Naga coffee stall at Dimapur recently for local consumers.
Ete Coffee, another local coffee roasting company, has sold over 12,000 packets of coffee across India and to customers in a few countries.
“We are selling in stores and also online through www.etecoffee.com. We also have a partner company in Singapore,” said Lichan Humtsoe, founder and owner of Été Coffee. (TTNE)