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Coffee Board unveils 'Coffee Swami' mascots
Saturday, 23 September, 2006, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Bangalore
The Coffee Board has launched the mascot for coffees of India, 'Coffee Swami.' Launching the mascot after announcing the launch of second India International Coffee Festival (IICF), which will be held from February 23-25, 2007 in Bangalore, Union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh said, "We want to establish IICF as a regular branded event in the world coffee calendar." He said the IICF would be conducted regularly once in two years.

The Centre will announce a major financial rescue package for coffee growers in four states later this month. "It will be worth a few thousand crores with the Centre taking most of the hit," Ramesh said.

Ramesh said the decision to announce the financial package for `suicide-prone districts' was conveyed to the chief ministers of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh during their meeting with the Prime Minister earlier. The package will cover six districts each in Karnataka and Maharashtra, 16 in Andhra Pradesh and 3 in Kerala.

He said the package will include loan re-scheduling, interest rate waiver, irrigation, livestock development and agriculture credit. The package will also cover financial and debt rescheduling. The Centre will absorb most of the cost of the financial rehabilitation for the coffee growers.

Ramesh also said that coffee growers as well as the Coffee Board should try to increase the domestic consumption of coffee. "The biggest challenge for coffee growers and the board is to increase the domestic consumption of coffee," he said. The Government has set a target of doubling domestic consumption to 1.6 lakh tonnes of coffee in another 10 years, he added, pointing out that during 1995-96, nearly 72% of the coffee produced

in the country was being exported; it's the same even today, he said. "There should be a balance between domestic sales and exports so that producers are exposed to lesser risks." He said higher domestic consumption will increase the number of jobs in the industry.

He also wanted the board to increase exports to Russia, Germany, Belgium and the US, which were earlier some of the biggest importers of Indian coffee. "Except Italy where coffee exports have doubled, countries such as Russia, Germany, Belgium and the US have seen a substantial decrease in exports," he pointed out.

The Coffee Board chairman, Krishna Rau, said the India International Coffee festival would showcase the diversity and strengths of coffees of India. "At the same tie, it is also an effort to position coffee as a preferred beverage within the Indian market by showcasing the opportunities and advantages to develop internal coffee market." The biennial festival includes an exhibition on coffee, a buyer-seller meet and post event tours to select coffee tracts.
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