The Coffee Industry Board (CIB), is recruiting some 3,000 new coffee farmers, as the Government moves to resuscitate the production of non-Blue Mountain Coffee.
At a meeting held with farmers in Eastern Westmoreland on April 14 at the Enfield Primary School, Director General of the CIB Christopher Gentles, said that a number of initiatives were being put in place to return efficiency and sustainability to the industry.
“We are presently seeking investments and programmes to assist farmers in order to make coffee farming better and more attractive,” he informed, noting that resources were being sought for an efficient seedling programme.
Through funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a US$100,000 project has been put in place to distribute seedlings and fertiliser to some 470 farmers across the island, and Mr. Gentles said that the hope was to deepen these benefits over time.
As it relates to pricing, Mr. Gentles said that the CIB was committed to ensuring that the farmer received the very best price for the product, even as the world is in a recession.
Marketing Manager of the National People’s Co-operative Bank (NPCB), Dunville Lawrence, addressing Westmoreland coffee farmers on April 14, at a meeting organised by the Coffee Industry Board at the Enfield Primary School in the parish.
“Coffee is one of those crops that retains a good value in United States dollars … it is a fact that presently, Jamaican coffee farmers get the highest prices for coffee in the world, and I want to say to you farmers, come forward and we will give you all the necessary support,” he pledged.
He noted further that coffee “is a kind crop, once you take care of it, it will take care of you and you will always have a market for coffee. It is a long-term investment which, if managed well, will bring you good money.”
Coffee is a high earner of foreign exchange, netting some US$30 million last year, providing direct and indirect employment for approximately 150,000 persons.
Marketing Manager at the National People’s Co-operative Bank, Dunville Lawrence, addressing the issue of a lack of collateral by farmers to access loans, informed that the bank was now providing assistance for persons to acquire legal documents for their holdings.
“Farmers, who have lands but do not have titles, the National People’s Co-operative is offering a land titling service, where as long as you have been owner of the land for seven years or more … the Bank can assist you to get a Certificate of Compliance for that property, which after three months, can be used to acquire loans.
“Our services can further assist you through our lawyer, to upgrade your Certificate of Compliance to a Registered Title … and then the sky is the limit for you”, Mr. Lawrence told the farmers.