Special Correspondent: Tea or coffee? This is a common question nowadays. Drinking coffee has become equally popular both at home and abroad. But even two centuries ago there was no opportunity to choose any alternative to tea. Coming to 2022, coffee is not yet as well-known as tea, but it is not that unfamiliar either. Although not overtaking tea, coffee has become quite popular.
According to the British Coffee Association, coffee is now the most popular drink worldwide. Three years ago, they calculated that about 2 billion cups of coffee are drunk in the world every day. But while coffee is popular around the world, the account is different in Asia. Because in the world’s two most populous countries, India and China, tea is still preferred over coffee. Same in Bangladesh. However, it is believed that the popularity of coffee will peak in this region as well as the rest of the world.
Status of coffee in Bangladesh:
The popularity of tea in this country started in the last part of the British rule. And coffee is of two eras. Again, the beginning of the coffee movement was very slow, but in the last decade, its popularity has increased. Now there are many people who enjoy coffee ‘occasionally’, so many people are drinking coffee instead of tea as a regular drink.
According to the information of various organizations that market coffee, the country has an annual demand of about 900 to 1 thousand tons of coffee. It is almost entirely dependent on imports. And this market is occupied by foreign companies. Some domestic corporates have started coffee business but their market share is low.
According to the data, among the coffee brands in Bangladesh are Nestlé Bangladesh, North-End, Lavazza, McCoffee, Coffee, Rose Coffee and Delight Coffee. Among them, the foreign company Nestlé occupies almost two-thirds of the entire market. The remaining part is from other brands.
Nestle has been doing coffee business in Bangladesh since 1994. Even earlier some coffee was imported by private enterprise. However, Nestlé’s contribution to the marketing and promotion of coffee in the domestic market of the country is still the highest.
Talking to various food vendors in Dhaka, it is said that drinking coffee after other meals has now become an urban culture. Hence it is an integral part of running a food shop.
They say, in the last four-five years, the prevalence of coffee machines has increased so much that coffee is available at every turn. Even villages have coffee machines in various eateries. The coffee business is growing rapidly mainly through coffee machines.
Besides, small packets of coffee are available for Tk 5-10. As a result, many people are drinking coffee in street tea stalls. Many people also like to mix coffee with tea.
Regarding the potential of coffee in Bangladesh, Naqib Khan, president of Bangladesh Supply Chain Management Society and former director of Nestle Bangladesh, told that there is a lot of potential for coffee in the country. Because the new generation is used to coffee. Even among the young to middle-aged middle class, who are now the largest in the country, this habit has developed. That is the big potential of this market.
The problem with coffee is high tariffs Marketing companies believe that the rate at which coffee is growing in popularity in the country would be even higher. They consider its high tariff as a major problem. Because of which they think that the illegal import of coffee is increasing. Because coffee is still listed as a luxury product in the country. That is why coffee has to be marketed at a high price. Because of that, the buyers are not able to taste the coffee at a low price.
In this regard, Nestlé Bangladesh Director (Law and Corporate Affairs) Debbrat Roy told that coffee is a healthy drink. It has lots of good ingredients including anti-oxidants. But as it is listed as a luxury product, it is not within the purchasing power of everyone. People from all walks of life are not getting the benefits of this drink.
He said, there is a high rate of duty on coffee. 25 percent general duty, 3 percent RD, 20 percent supplementary duty are levied. If all duties are taken as taxes, it is almost hundred percent.
Debbrata Roy said, now the government should look at how to get out of this situation. Because there are many problems due to this high tax. Not all levels of people can be reached with the product. For the same reason, a lot of coffee is being imported by evading customs duties. Companies that do business according to the rules are suffering. New foreign investment is not coming.
Coffee is being cultivated in the country
Coffee cultivation which started in the 1990s on a limited scale in the hill districts in the traditional way is now going into commercial production. Not only in the hills, coffee cultivation has spread beyond the hill districts to some northern districts including Nilphamari, Tangail and Moulvibazar. Bangladesh Agricultural Extension Directorate and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute have come forward to encourage cultivation of this non-traditional financial crop. The government is taking a separate project worth about 200 crore rupees.
The horticulture wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension says that in the last financial year, the coffee production area in the country was about 122 hectares, the total production was about 60 tonnes. Although this production is less than 5 percent of the total demand. Therefore, the rest of the demand is met with imported coffee.
It is known that two types of coffee are being cultivated in Bangladesh now. An African variety of Coffea canniphora, also known as Robusta coffee. the other is Coffea arabica; This coffee, which is in great demand worldwide, is also known as mountain coffee.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute is also working to develop new varieties of coffee locally to advance the commercial production of coffee. The new variety will be called Bari Coffee-1. Hybrid coffee varieties have been developed from Robusta and Arabica species in India, Vietnam and various African countries. However, Pahari Research Center has not yet gone to that higher level of research.
However, in the traditional method of coffee production, a large part of the coffee produced is wasted due to inefficiency. That is why Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute is bringing simple technology. Besides, training in the art of coffee marketing is also being strengthened.
Describing coffee as an ‘infant industry’ in Bangladesh, Mizanul Haq Kajal, former dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Business of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University and the current secretary general of the Agricultural Economist Association, said that coffee cultivation has great potential. It has government involvement in its cultivation. If some incentives can be given now, it will be profitable in future. We can reduce imports. From there you will save a lot of foreign currency.
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