JIS News

Corporate Communications Manager of the Coffee Industry Board, Arlene Daley, has expressed concern over what she says is the steady decline in coffee production over the past two decades.
Speaking at a meeting of the Non-Blue Mountain Coffee Cooperative recently hosted at the Kendal Camp and Conference Centre in Manchester, she noted that next to sugar, coffee is the crop which earns Jamaica the second highest amount of revenue.
Ms. Daley further informed that while low land areas yielded some 300,000 boxes per annum in the early 1980s, this has fallen drastically to some 80,000 boxes annually, in recent years.
“We have a decline in production over the years. In 1982, we were exporting around 300,000 boxes of low-land coffee. Over time, this has gradually declined. Blue Mountain Coffee used to produce approximately 30 per cent of coffee for the export market, while low land used to produce 70 per cent of this amount. Now, unfortunately, the reverse is true,” she said.
Lamenting that several factors have contributed to this decline, she stated that the country is now experiencing significant revenue loss as a result. While Jamaica earned between $27 million and $40 million per annum from the coffee industry a decade ago, this figure has seen significant reduction in recent years, she informed.
Frequent hurricanes resulting in loss of productive acreages, the demise of the banana industry in coffee growing areas, continuous high infection levels of coffee leaf rust, and a lack of low-interest funding to finance coffee production in high mountain areas, are some of the reasons cited by the CIB, as negatively affecting the industry.
The Board will be doing its part to improve coffee production through a number of intervention strategies, such as increasing access to low-interest funds, instituting new agronomy programmes, and improving training and communication.
State Minister with responsibility for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Michael Stern, speaking at a community meeting at the Frankfield Primary School in his constituency of North West Clarendon, said incentives will have to be created to encourage more persons to go into coffee production.
This, he said as the production of low land coffee production has been on the decline for the past several years. “Incentives must be put in place so small farmers will want to plant coffee once more, low land coffee,” the State Minister said.
In support of the industry Mr. Stern said that he has allocated a percentage of his constituency’s development fund to the resuscitation of the industry. He informed that a coffee processing factory is to be opened in Frankfield, Clarendon to deal with the problem.
The Coffee Industry Board plays a crucial role in the regulation of the coffee industry, while the Government-owned Wallenford Coffee Company has the responsibility of managing the commercial aspects of coffee production in Jamaica.