Coffee is a popular beverage worldwide. This practice of short breaks known as tea breaks or coffee breaks during various trainings, seminars and conferences was introduced in America in the early eighteenth century. Although tea has earned foreign exchange by meeting the demand of Bangladesh and exporting it abroad, we are still lagging behind in coffee cultivation. The present agri-friendly government is trying to inspire for commercial agriculture. Efforts are being made to expand coffee and almonds to transform Bangladesh from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture. As coffee is a lucrative crop, by cultivating it, the economic development of the country will be as much as it is rich in multidimensional nutrients and will meet the nutritional needs of the people. One cup of back coffee (125 ml) contains virtually no fats, carbohydrates or proteins, so its energy intake is only 1-2 kcal. Coffee contains many minerals and vitamins.
Current status of coffee cultivation and market situation in Bangladesh
There is a huge demand for coffee and marketing. At present it is produced in three districts of the hilly region of the country but about 90% of it is produced in Bandarban. Apart from hilly areas, cultivation has already started in other areas of Bangladesh. Coffee cultivation has started in Nilphamari and Rangpur districts of the north and in Tangail. According to the Horticulture Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), the coffee production area in 2019-2020 was about 118.3 hectares and the total production was about 55.75 tons. At present the farmers are cultivating and processing everything in a traditional way which yields less and yields less. The amount of green coffee imported in the fiscal year 2019-2020 is 32.518 tons (Source: Plant Quarantine Wing, DAE). About 95% of the demand is being met with imported coffee. So we need to take the necessary steps now to increase coffee production and processing.
Potential aspects of coffee cultivation expansion
Coffee can be an alternative source of income for the hill people of Bangladesh. Papaya, pineapple, black pepper can be easily cultivated as intercrop with coffee cultivation. Coffee is good in light shade and does not require much fertilizer and irrigation which helps in maintaining the balance of the environment. Fertilizer and irrigation are required when cultivating in sunny places. The government has taken multi-pronged measures to increase its production as local demand is high and there are opportunities for export. Work has already begun on a project to expand and process coffee and almond cultivation through the Department of Agricultural Extension. North and Coffee Roasters, Dhaka is contributing to the growth of coffee cultivation through government as well as private initiatives. Those who are buying coffee directly from the coffee growers in the highlands. Besides, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have distributed Monghar, Rangamati, Aranyak Foundation training and coffee saplings. Producers, researchers, extension officers, media, non-governmental organizations and foreign development agencies should come forward to increase coffee cultivation so that Bangladesh succeeds in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Climate and varieties suitable for cultivation in Bangladesh
The climate of Bangladesh is favorable for coffee cultivation, but in order to get good and improved taste and aroma of coffee, special activities have to be taken in the hilly areas to expand its cultivation. The soil suitable for coffee cultivation is deep, loamy, rich in organic matter and rich in humus, light loamy soil (pH 4.5-6.5). Although there are 60 species of coffee in the world, there are two varieties of commercially cultivable coffee, such as: Robusta variety of coffee is very suitable for the climate of Bangladesh. It is generally good at altitudes of 500-1000 m above sea level and 1000-2000 mm of rainfall. Elevation of 12% of the land in the south-east and north-east of Bangladesh is about 1000 meters. Apart from this, cultivation can be done in other areas of Bangladesh in hilly areas. Robusta coffee plants are less prone to rust disease. Arabica variety is suitable for cultivation in our country but yield is low.
Government initiatives to expand coffee cultivation and processing technology
Under the direction of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Agricultural Extension has taken steps to produce, expand and process coffee through the year-round fruit production nutrition development project. For example, to increase coffee cultivation, hybrid coffee pens will be officially procured and distributed. Imported coffee pens from Vietnam are in the process of being imported. Initially, training and processing equipment will be provided to 10 farmer groups through government projects for setting up of IrbangbhdhIrdhmabOhfang. Quality coffee seedlings / cuttings will be provided. Work is underway to adopt a project or program for coffee expansion in the future. Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and the DAE are regularly monitoring the current state of coffee across the country. Giving technical advice to farmers and inspiring them to create new gardens.