The Coffee Act of 1942 will be amended to make the statutory Coffee Board less regulatory and more market-oriented to promote domestic consumption and facilitate value-added varieties.
"A new Coffee Act is in the offing. The Coffee Board chairman (GV Krishan Rau) has submitted a draft for amending the 64-year-old act, which has become obsolete due to a paradigm shift in the environment and a change in the mindset to keep out controls and regulation," Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said in Coonoor on Saturday.
The minister was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the 113th annual conference of the United Planters Association of Southern India (Upasi).
The draft amendments will be put in the pubic domain and circulated among the stakeholders, including growers, corporate producers, exporters and plantation associations like Upasi, for feedback and changes, if necessary.
"We hope to introduce the amendments in parliament soon so as to have the new act effective from the next fiscal year (2007-08).
"In a liberalised economy, the Coffee Board will be strengthened to promote domestic consumption, boost exports and assist the sector in marketing and technology to produce more varieties like speciality coffee, instant coffee, etc," Ramesh said.
The ministry has already empowered the Coffee Board to convert the existing research institutes into full-fledged scientific and technological labs on the lines of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) to retain the talent and promote research.
"The board has been made autonomous to attract the best talent with promotional incentives for undertaking projects to assist growers. The upgraded labs will also collaborate with private institutes and reputed institutes like CSIR and ICAR to infuse new technologies and scientific methods for higher yields and cost-effective crop management," Ramesh pointed out.
Referring to the launch of the board's mascot, 'Coffee Swami', in Bangalore on Thursday, he said the second India International Coffee Festival would be held in Bangalore in February 2007 to position Indian coffee brands in the global marketplace.
"We want to establish India International Coffee Festival as a regular branded coffee event in the world coffee calendar and provide a prominent platform for aggressive marketing and positioning of India not merely as a supplier of high quality green coffees but also as a manufacturer of branded premium coffee products," the minister said.
'Coffee Swami', with his infectious smile and enduring character, is set to help all the stakeholders to market their products across the country as well as around the world.
With 80 percent of the total coffee production exported, India offers a variety of unique flavours to the world market. Significant gains were made in recent years in obtaining better valuations for Indian coffees in the international market.