Bengal mulling coffee cultivation in Darjeeling

Kolkata: West Bengal is exploring the possibility of coffee cultivation in Darjeeling on a large scale, encouraged by the success of some self-help groups, a state minister said on Tuesday.

"Some of our self-help groups (SHGs) in Darjeeling are involved in coffee cultivation but not on a large scale. We are exploring the possibility of large scale coffee cultivation in Darjeeling and Dooars," State Consumer Affairs, Self Help Group and Self Employment Minister Sadhan Pande told IANS.

He said early trends have been "encouraging" and the state officials are in touch with the Coffee Board of India to find out ways and means to develop it on a large scale.

About 200 marginalised farmers based in Bungkulung area under the Manju tea estate in Darjeeling's Mirik, have recently cultivated raw coffee of about 200 kg as an effort to find alternative livelihoods.

They received appreciation from officials of the Board who visited the area on more than one occasion in recent times.

"Three teams of officials from the Board visited the place in recent times and appreciated the quality of produce. They were highly impressed with the taste of coffee grown by these farmers," said Mustafa, founder and general secretary of Sunderbans Dream, a civil society organisation working for the marginalised and tribal farmers in the area.

"We are expecting assistance from the Coffee board in terms of providing certified seeds and technology adoption for processing the raw coffee," he said, adding that a consignment of 5 kg of certified seeds from the board is expected in a week.

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