JIS News

The Moy Hall Coffee Factory in Cedar Valley, St. Thomas has started distributing fertilizer to coffee farmers whose crops were damaged and who lost land due to land slippages caused by heavy rains associated with Hurricane Wilma.
Manager of the Blue Mountain Coffee Cooperative, O’Neil Blake, told JIS News that the product was being distributed by the factory’s extension services division under its fertilizer revolving credit scheme. “We are presently actively distributing fertiliser to our farmers to ensure that they can carry out their agronomic practices in the best way,” he said.
Mr. Blake noted that farmers were facing difficulties due to bad roads and the inadequacy of domestic water supplies. “The recent rains have had a major negative impact on the infrastructure. It has caused a lot of debris to flow off the mountain side, a lot of blocked drains and many landslides, and it is now causing great hardship to our farmers at this time,” he added.
He appealed to the National Works Agency (NWA) to fix farming roads in Cedar Valley. “We would really want attention to be given to the farmers to ensure that they can reap their coffee on time and deliver it freshly to the factory to ensure that they can maintain the quality of the beans. Blue Mountain Coffee only survives because of its high quality,” he added, stating that for the 2005/2006 crop, farmers have cultivated over 809 hectares (2,000 acres) of coffee.
Meanwhile, the management of the co-operative is examining the possibility of relocating certain activities of the factory to Yallahs in St. Thomas.
In July this year, the factory suffered extensive damage during the passage of Hurricane Dennis when the main offices, drying areas and the pulping house were flooded. As a result, the co-operative’s main office was relocated to Morant Bay in late July.
“Over the next seven to eight months, we are looking at gradually phasing out the finishing works and relocating it to Yallahs,” Mr. Blake told JIS News, adding that the drying, storage, sorting and packaging would also be removed to Yallahs.
He noted that this area would be easily accessible to coffee farmers and “less risk exists in terms of its long-term viability.”
According to Mr. Blake, farmers would continue to deliver their coffee beans to the factory in Moy Hall until the completion of the relocation process. He informed that a meeting was recently held at the Morant Villas hotel in Morant Bay to explain the reasons for the relocation and to hear the concerns of farmers.