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Minister of Agriculture Roger Clarke has informed that the Ministry will be meeting with Industry officials to discuss unsanitary practices of manufacturing in exporting produce such as ackee and coffee.
Speaking at the Coffee Industry Board’s (CIB) Long Service Special Awards luncheon yesterday (Dec. 15), at Pollyanna Caterers on Stanton Terrace, Minister Clarke explained that Jamaica’s good reputation with their overseas ackee markets was once again being undermined by persons who were using unsatisfactory methods to export the product.
“We struggled to get access into the American market with our ackee, it is now being threatened by what our people in Jamaica are doing. It took us years to access those markets and now people are undermining the process,” the Agriculture Minister noted.
Continuing he added “We are going to take a stand, within another week or two, I’m going to be calling in to books all those who are in the business because we cannot afford for something like that to be destroyed. When we have products like Jamaican ackee, coffee, pimento, and cocoa, all those products which we can get premium prices for we must protect those markets because those are going to be the lifelines in due course”.
Meanwhile Minister Clarke urged CIB stakeholders to strive to make ‘efficiency the order of the day’ and maintain very high standards as industries look towards facing the likelihood of price cuts and stringent sanitary requirements in the export of their products.
“We cannot continue on the path we have travelled over the years, our sugar and banana is threatened, our rum has its difficulties and based on new sanitary and phyto-sanitary arrangements being put in place every product that we have in this country, provided we are engaged in trade, will come under scrutiny and we will have to adhere to very high standards if we are to continue in this global trading arena,” the Minister outlined.
Mr. Clarke further charged that in order for the coffee industry to remain efficient and highly productive, measures would have to be adopted to stamp out the plague of praedial larceny affecting the industry.
“Those people who are in the trade I want to warn you that it is not doing the industry any good, you cannot buy coffee from people who you know are not coffee farmers. Whoever brings coffee to you ask them where their farm is,” Minister Clarke charged.
In commending and congratulating the awardees, Mr. Clarke informed that the Ministry would be looking to assist coffee farmers with irrigation systems in order to support and increase their production.
“We are doing some serious irrigation as we are aware that if you have irrigation you can grow when you want..productivity has to be the order of the day, we must lift the productivity of our coffee,” he noted.
Meanwhile Executive Director of the HEART Trust/NTA Robert Gregory, in his address also congratulated the awardees and called on workers within the coffee industry to continue to upgrade their education and skills and for the industry to be visionaries in preparing for future price cuts from their export markets.
“When you look at what is happening on the global stage with the imminent cut in sugar and banana prices, you have to prepare yourselves for that possibility by being efficient and link value added measures to your production in order to meet worldwide market demands,” Mr. Gregory explained.
Over 20 employees were recognized for their long service to the coffee industry. The awards were categorized in five to 10 years, 15 to 20 years and over 20 years brackets.
Richard Downer, Chairman of the CIB officially also announced that he would be stepping down from the post in coming weeks to tend to personal matters.