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India’s coffee output in the next crop year is expected to drop by around a quarter to the lowest in nearly two decades as poor rains and hot temperatures hit plantations during the crucial flowering stage, the head of an industry body said.

India is the world’s sixth-biggest coffee producer, although is well behind leaders Brazil and Vietnam.

“Dry weather is hitting plantations in the crucial flowering stage. On a conservative basis, we are estimating a 25% drop in production,” Baba P. S. Bedi, chairman of the Karnataka Planters Association (KPA) told Reuters.

The southern state of Karnataka accounts for about 70% of India’s total output. India is likely to produce 350,000 tonnes coffee in the current season ending on September 30, according to estimates by the state-run Coffee Board.

With a 25% reduction in Karnataka, production could drop to 263,000 tonnes in the 2016/17 crop year, the lowest since 1998/99.

“Due to the back-to-back droughts, ground water has been depleted,” said Bedi, pointing to lower rainfall since the start of March on top of drought last year.

Coffee growing regions in southern India received up to 70% lower rainfall than normal from March to mid-May, according to the India Meteorological Department.

Italy, Germany and Belgium are the main buyers of India’s crop, paying a premium over global prices.

India’s coffee exports have risen 19.4% to 213,187 tonnes since the start of current marketing year on October 1.


(With Agency Inputs)