$80-Million Initiative to Help Registered Coffee Farmers

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Karl Samuda (second right), looks on as Managing Director, Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited, Dennis Valdez (right), presents a bag of ‘coffeeliser’ to coffee farmers from the Brandon Hill Division, Odia Bruce (left) and Will Frazer, during a press conference on the coffee industry, at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices on October 3.

Story Highlights

  • Registered coffee farmers are to benefit from an $80-million initiative that is expected to improve and increase their yields over time.
  • Speaking at a press conference on October 3 at the Ministry in Kingston to provide an update on the coffee industry, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, said the initiative “will commence almost immediately”.
  • The Minister said the Government will be taking a multipronged approach to improving the industry, including market diversification, increased productivity and production of the Blue Mountain, High Mountain and lowland coffee varieties.

Registered coffee farmers are to benefit from an $80-million initiative that is expected to improve and increase their yields over time.

The project, which falls under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries’ Productivity Incentive Programme, will focus on training; the purchase of inputs, such as fertilisers and fungicides, and tools.

Speaking at a press conference on October 3 at the Ministry in Kingston to provide an update on the coffee industry, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, said the initiative “will commence almost immediately”.

He informed that the Coffee Industry Board will be responsible for disbursing the supplies. “They have all the farmers registered, so it will commence almost immediately, because they need it (the assistance) immediately,” he said.

Mr. Samuda explained that the move is expected to increase the productivity level of coffee from the current 20 boxes per acre to 80 boxes per acre.

He said the Government is committed to supporting a vibrant coffee industry, both for export and to supply the domestic market.

On prices in the industry, he reminded farmers that the Government does not set coffee prices, adding that the prices are usually market-driven and determined by supply and demand.

Farmers are now being paid $6,000 per box as compared to the $10,000 per box they received last year.

He pointed out that the decline has resulted from a decrease in prices from the main buyer of the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, Japan.

Mr. Samuda further noted that the Japanese have also invested in improved storage systems, allowing them to better preserve and store the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee for longer periods.

The Minister said the Government will be taking a multipronged approach to improving the industry, including market diversification, increased productivity and production of the Blue Mountain, High Mountain and lowland coffee varieties.

He said collaboration among the farmers, processors and exporters will redound to the benefit of the industry and the country.

Members of Parliament from three of the island’s coffee-producing areas were in attendance and welcomed the move. They are Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, and Member of Parliament for West Portland, Hon. Darly Vaz; Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness and Member of Parliament for West Rural St. Andrew, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn.

For his part, Managing Director, Newport Fersan Jamaica Limited, Dennis Valdez, said his fertiliser-manufacturing company stands ready to improve and maximise productivity within the sector.

He said a product dubbed ‘coffeeliser’ has been designed specifically for the sector.

“We will be giving a five per cent discount on the price, and in addition to that, we will give 1,000 bags for the whole sector,” he said.

Representing the Jamaica Coffee Growers Association, Jennifer Housen, expressed gratitude for the initiative, adding that the farmers stand to benefit.

Coffee production moved from 201,000 boxes last year to some 230,000 this year.

JIS Social