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How to Start Commercial Coffee Plantation Business

Do you want to start a coffee production business? Find here a detailed coffee plantation business plan guide for beginners. The article contains economic importance, best varieties, cost, and commercial farming guide.

Actually, coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world worth 90 billion US Dollars a year. So undoubtedly, coffee production is a lucrative business for entrepreneurs. However, coffee plantation demands adequate area of land, infrastructure, and capital investment.

The scientific name of the coffee is Coffea and it belongs to Rubiaceae. Basically, it is a flowering plant. And it produces coffee beans. Basically, coffee plants are shrubs or small trees. Coffee has the great market potential both in domestic and international trade. Green (unroasted) coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world.

The major coffee-producing countries in the world are Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and India. The major coffee-producing states in India are Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha.

Is Coffee Plantation Business Profitable?

Coffee is a popular beverage and an important commodity. Generally, small producers in developing countries make their living growing coffee. The total consumption of coffee is over 2.25 billion cups in the world every day.

Basically, over 90% of coffee production takes place in developing countries. However, maximum consumption happens mainly in industrialized economies. Coffee is one of the major agricultural export commodities throughout the globe. The coffee industry currently has a commodity chain that involves producers, middlemen exporters, importers, roasters, and retailers before reaching the consumer.

According to International Coffee Organisation (ICO) estimates, roughly 25 million families depend on growing and selling beans, most of which are small-scale farmers. Apart from the retail market, coffee shops are the major consumers of coffee. Many high-end perfume shops now offer coffee beans to refresh the receptors between perfume tests.

Health Benefits of Coffee

  • Coffee improves energy levels, mood, and various aspects of brain function.
  • Additionally, it can increase fat burning in the body and boost the metabolic rate.
  • Coffee contains several important nutrients, including Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium, and Niacin.
  • Coffee appears to lower the risk of developing depression and may dramatically reduce the risk of suicide.
  • Also, coffee is one of the biggest sources of antioxidants.
  • Finally, several studies show that coffee drinkers live longer and have a lower risk of premature death.

Things To Consider in Commercial Coffee Plantation

  • Like any other plantation business, coffee farming is also a long-term business. So, you need to plan accordingly.
  • Coffee plantation is a labor-oriented business. You need an adequate supply of laborers in the gardens.
  • If you only want to grow coffee, then you must contact the processing unit prior. And after harvesting, you will need to shift the fresh coffee to the processing units.
  • Coffee plantation requires financial and management planning for the year. And the plan must consist of the requirement of labor, agriculture inputs, and operational costs.
  • Finally, the coffee plantation is a cash-intensive business. You have the financial backup for at least harvest seasons.

Best Varieties for Coffee Plantation

You can find a lot of good coffee varieties throughout the globe. However, you must choose the variety according to the agroclimatic condition of your area. Here, we have compiled some of the most popular coffee varieties for small coffee farms.

Coffee Arabica: It is one of the predominant varieties grown in the coffee belts of the world. It prefers a cool climate and high altitude.  It is susceptible to the leaf disease Hemeleta Vastatrix. Some of the important strains of C. arabica are :

a) Kent Coffee: It is vigorous and moderately resistant to leaf disease and” gives good yields with bold good-sized berries.

b) Blue Mountain Coffee: Introduced from Jamaica, characterized by heavy berries bluish in color.

c) Coffee robusta: It likes the warm humid atmosphere and grows well under lower altitudes, hardy, and resistant to leaf disease. Yield is comparatively less than arabica. It is characterized by more bushy habits.

d) Cofflmliitemm: In this variety, the tree comes in moderate size and grows to a maximum height of 8 meters. They are borne on the leaf axils & on branches in single and also in clusters.

e) Coffee Exeel: This species is allied, to Coffee Tiberic.

f) Coffee Congensis: Resembles Coffee arabica.

g) Coffee Cugencil: Bush is very small with, very small leaves and berries.

Location & Agroclimatic Condition for Coffee Plantation

The most suitable height is 1000-1500m from the mean sea level for the Arabica variety. Additionally, it needs an annual rainfall of 1600-2500mm. Coffee prefers an optimum temperature of 15-250C and relative humidity of 70-80% and needs medium to light shade.

However, you can plant the robusta variety at an elevation of 500-1000m from the mean sea level. And it requires an annual rainfall of 1000-2000mm. It requires an optimum temperature of 20-300C and relative humidity of 80-90% and needs uniform thin shade.

The coffee plant prefers deep, friable well-drained, slightly acidic in reaction (PH 6.0-6.5) porous, and rich in organic matter content. Soil should be moisture retentive.

10 Basic Steps for Coffee Plantation

1. Land Preparation

First of all, divide the land into blocks of convenient size with footpaths and roads laid out in between. In the sloppy area, you can adopt terracing and contour planting. Spacing for arabica and robusta coffee is 2-2.5m and 2.5 to 4m respectively on either way.

Usually, you can open pits of 45cm after the first few summer shower. You can plant the seedlings 16 to 18 months old during June or September-October. Place the seedling in the hole with its taproot and lateral roots spread out in the proper position.

Then, pack the soil around the seedling firmly and evenly in such a way that 3 cm high above the ground to prevent stagnation of water around the collar. Finally, provide the seedlings cross stakes to prevent wind damage.

Suggested Read: How To Take Soil Samples For Analysis?

2. Nursery Practice

Broadly, you can raise the seedlings in two ways. Either in the nursery beds or in the small bags.

For sowing the coffee seeds, prepare the germination beds of 1-meter width and of convenient length to a height of 15 cm from the ground level. Sow only the selected and certified coffee seeds. After sowing, cover the seeds with a thin layer of finely sieved soil. Additionally, mulch with a layer of paddy straw ensures optimum temperature for seed germination and protects the seeds from desiccation.

3. Coffee Care & Management

When the plant reaches a height of 75cm in Arabica or 110-120 cm in robusta, is topped. Actually, this facilitates lateral spreading and increases the bearing area. In this system, sometimes you may provide a second tier depending upon the soil fertility and plant’s vigor. After harvesting, immediately you will need to provide pruning till the onset of the monsoon.

4. Soil Management

Digging: In the new clearing, give the field a thorough digging to a depth of about 35-45cm towards the end of the monsoon.

Scuffling or soil stirring: In established coffee fields, you can do scuffling or soil stirring towards the beginning of the dry period. Actually, it controls weeds and also conserves soil moisture.

Trenching: Dig or renovate the trenches and pits in a staggered manner between rows of coffee along the contour during August-October when the soil is fairly easy to work.

Mulching: Basically, mulching young coffee clearings helps to maintain optimum soil temperature and conserves soil moisture, and acts as an effective erosion control measure.

Read: Is Soil Testing Important In Agriculture?

5. Manuring

Actually, the peak periods of demand for nutrients are at the time of flowering, fruit set, development, and crop maturation. Therefore, you will need to plan accordingly. In general, you need to provide the Nitrogen Phosphorus, and Potash in the right ratio.

6. Irrigation

Generally, coffee is a rainfed crop. However, irrigation with sprinklers during the summer increases blossoming and results in higher yields.

7. Weed Control

Generally, during monsoon, you will need to put attention to weed control

8. Shade Tree Management

There are several different shade trees you can use on the coffee plantation. Commonly you can use Dadap as a lower canopy shade. Plant the two-meter-long stakes for every two plants of coffee. You can plant Silver Oak and Dadaps during June when rains of the South-West monsoon commence.

During summer, paint the stem of young Dadaps with diluted lime or wrap them in agave leaves or polythene sheets in order to prevent them from sun scorching. Additionally, regulate shade by cutting criss-cross branches during monsoon season. Basically, for permanent shade, you can plant silver oak trees.

9. Plant Protection

For protecting the plant, you must save the coffee garden from pests and diseases. Generally, Mealybug, White stem borer, and Shoot-hole borer are the most potential pests to damage the coffee plantation.

On the other hand, you have to protect the garden from the diseases like Leaf rust, Black rot, and Root Diseases.

Also Read: Most Profitable Cash Crops to Grow

10. Harvesting & Storage

Actually, you can pick the coffee fruits as and when they become ripe to get better quality. Arabica comes for harvesting earlier since they take 8-9 months for fruit development from flowering while robusta takes 10-11 months.

You must pick the coffee fruits manually. The first picking consists of the selective picking of ripe berries and is called fly picking. Thereafter, there will be 4-6 main pickings at 10-15days intervals and the final harvest.

If proper care and management are provided, you can expect 750 – 1000 kg dry parchment /ha from your coffee plantation business.