- The programme is aimed at assisting the country’s coffee farmers who have been affected by the coffee berry borer and coffee leaf rust diseases.
- Senator Norman Grant, noted that infestation of the coffee leaf rust, the more devastating of the two diseases, has resulted in revenue losses of US$10 million over the last three years.
- Global coffee production has declined by 20 per cent due to the impact of the coffee leaf rust disease.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in collaboration with the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory and other stakeholders, is expected to embark on a programme aimed at assisting the country’s coffee farmers who have been affected by the coffee berry borer and coffee leaf rust diseases.
Making the announcement on Thursday, May 22, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory, Senator Norman Grant, noted that infestation of the coffee leaf rust, the more devastating of the two diseases, has resulted in revenue losses of US$10 million over the last three years.
The Senator, who is also President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), further informed that global coffee production has declined by 20 per cent due to the impact of the coffee leaf rust disease.
He explained that while the coffee berry borer disease can be dealt with fairly easily, where the infested berries can be picked and burned with little damage to the trees, which can still bear crops, the leaf rust, on the other hand, is much more destructive.
“It (coffee leaf rust) attacks the trees; the leaves fall off and the tree will die, and you are missing two to three years of production. But, with the help of the Ministry, the Coffee Industry Board and all the other stakeholders, we are certainly expecting to have a massive programme in the upcoming year, to see how we can support the farmers in a big way to eradicate this (disease),” he said.
The President was speaking at the official launch of Agrofest 2014 at the offices of the JAS in downtown Kingston.
The Senator noted that the production of Blue Mountain Coffee has been reduced to 160,000 boxes this year, down from 211,000 the previous year, which is mainly due to the coffee leaf rust disease.
“That is why Mavis Bank Coffee Factory is going to be making a big effort to promote the programmes of the coffee sector in partnership with the Ministry,” he said.
Mr. Grant noted that Mavis Bank Factory has already been helping farmers across the island to recover from the impact of the diseases, having provided inputs valued at $20 million.
He informed that the entity is to conclude arrangements, and to roll out by next week, another tranche of input, including fertilizer worth $5 million to coffee farmers in Portland, St. Thomas and St. Andrew, “before they deliver a bean to us.”
“We are going to be selecting those farmers very carefully, because we know that without the plant nutrition, the trees will not bear. So, we are going to be very deliberate as it relates to working with the coffee farmers in a very big way,” he said.
Agrofest 2014 is to be held on the grounds of Jamaica College in St. Andrew, on Saturday (May 31) from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. This is the 18th staging of the agricultural show and exhibition, to be observed under the theme: ‘Grow What We Eat… Eat What We Grow’.