Coffee Exports to China Being Explored

Photo: Donald De La Haye Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness (left), converses with Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Jamaica, His Excellency Niu Quingbao, during the inaugural coffee industry symposium at the Chinese Benevolent Association in Kingston on Sunday (November 19).

Story Highlights

  • Member of Parliament for St. Andrew East Rural, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, says discussions are under way between the Governments of Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China to export local coffee to the Asian country.
  • Mrs. Holness said the Chinese Government has already expressed an interest in assisting to improve critical infrastructure, such as farm roads, which, she noted, are in a poor state and present a “serious barrier” to the coffee sector’s growth.
  • “The Chinese… have expressed a desire to assist with a lot of our farm roads. This will help to drive the productivity we need to be able to provide (coffee) at a more competitive price and ensure that our farmers are absolutely profitable,” Mrs. Holness contended.

Member of Parliament for St. Andrew East Rural, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, says discussions are under way between the Governments of Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China to export local coffee to the Asian country.

Mrs. Holness told JIS News that this is a strategic move by the Jamaican Government to further diversify the country’s coffee export market.

Noting that there is growing demand for coffee in the Asian market, Mrs. Holness said the Government is seeking to position Jamaica to take advantage of this opportunity.

“We have been in discussions individually, as Members of Parliament, and the Chinese have approached us in respect of the vast potential that market holds, primarily, I would say, based on the large volume of persons who are there,” she said.

She added that the growing demand for the beverage makes the exploration of this market as an ideal trading partner at this time, a feasible undertaking.

“We want to make sure if such a vast market starts to develop the taste for coffee, that Blue Mountain coffee is what fills that particular gap,” Mrs. Holness further said.

She was speaking at the inaugural Coffee Industry Symposium held at the Chinese Benevolent Association in Kingston on November 19.

Mrs. Holness said the Chinese Government has already expressed an interest in assisting to improve critical infrastructure, such as farm roads, which, she noted, are in a poor state and present a “serious barrier” to the coffee sector’s growth.

She argued that against the background of significant road improvements that have been undertaken by firms such as China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC), Jamaica must seize the opportunity to expand on this partnership, to the benefit of the agricultural sector.

“The Chinese… have expressed a desire to assist with a lot of our farm roads. This will help to drive the productivity we need to be able to provide (coffee) at a more competitive price and ensure that our farmers are absolutely profitable,” Mrs. Holness contended.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Niu Quingbao, said China’s coffee consumption is expanding rapidly, noting that this increased by 46 per cent between 2011 and 2016.

He pointed that for between January and September this year, China imported almost 50 per cent more than in the same period last year, “so the market is very big”.

Despite the growing demand for the beverage, the Ambassador noted that import of Jamaican coffee is minimal, totalling 26 per cent per annum from 2011 to 2016.

With Chinese coffee bean consumption projected to reach US$50 billion by 2025, Mr. Niu urged all stakeholders to aggressively promote the Jamaica Blue Mountain brand in order to cash in on this opportunity.

“I know that the Jamaican Government is very serious about promoting Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. I have exchanged views with several Ministers on how to expand coffee importation. I have been told that the export market is one obstacle; supply and production is another,” he said.

Mr. Niu said the Chinese Government stands ready to provide assistance to enable greater efficiency in the sector.

“To expand production, you probably need an improved infrastructure, such as roads, side roads, equipment and fertilisers. With improved roads and more equipment, I’m sure that production will be raised. I encourage you to go directly to the Chinese market. If you export all your coffee to China, the market will be big enough; so coffee farmers will have to work very hard to supply this market,” he said.

The symposium was hosted by Mrs. Holness in collaboration with the Members of Parliament for the adjoining coffee-producing constituencies of Western Portland, Hon. Daryl Vaz; and Western St. Thomas, James Robertson.

It was attended by Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda; and Jamaica Agricultural Society President and Chairman-elect for the Jamaica Coffee Exporters’ Association, Norman Grant.

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