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JIS News

The Moy Hall Coffee Factory in Cedar Valley, St. Thomas has suffered extensive damage with the passage of Hurricane Dennis estimated at $70 million to $80 million.
“At the factory, a number of buildings have been washed away, store houses flooded, the main office is covered in sand and silt. We have lost stock and we anticipate that it might be in the region of some $70 million to $80 million losses that we have incurred,” Manager of the Blue Mountain Coffee Cooperative, O’Neil Blake told JIS News.
Additionally, he said, the drying areas and the pulping house have been flooded with water from the mountains. “A number of machines will have to undergo extensive repairs to ensure that they can be used again,” he said.
Mr. Blake noted that the Cedar Valley main road leading to the coffee factory has been completely demolished and was now a “river bed”.
The Manager said the executive members of the Cooperative were currently looking at the possibility of relocating certain activities of the factory to Morant Bay by next week. “Right now there is no office. There is no formal contact with the organization, so we are trying to get an office set up very quickly to ensure that we can remain a solid business structure,” he said.
According to Mr. Blake, a large number of coffee farmers in Cedar Valley, Penlyne Castle, Mt. Vernon, Somerset and other surrounding areas, who were preparing for the 2005 crop, have suffered “severe fruit fall” and their land lost to land slippage. Many of the farmers, he said, were recovering from damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.
“This is major hardship for the Cooperative and it is going to be a major hardship for the farmers,” he added.
He also pointed out that land slippage could have been reduced, if there was proper watershed management in the Blue Mountains. “Today, on a regular basis, you have persons cutting roads in the mountains. You have many bushfires and there is a total disregard and disrespect for preserving the environment,” he added.
The Cooperative Manager said his biggest challenge at the moment was how to transport the remaining stock to markets. “We are trying to make some arrangements to see how swiftly, we could get out those stocks,” he stated.
Meanwhile, he said, Cooperative members would be appealing to the government and the Ministry of Agriculture for assistance.
“We will be seeking a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture to outline what we have experienced over the years and more directly, this present problem. and to see what benefits we can get to assist our rebuilding and assist the farmers in a meaningful way,” he stated.