JIS News

The Coffee Industry Board (CIB) is seeking to implement a revitalization/rehabilitation programme as the sector continues to recover from damage caused by Hurricane Ivan last year.
Director General of the CIB, Graham Dunkley, tells JIS News that the board, with the assistance of consultants, has prepared and submitted a comprehensive grant proposal to various international agencies, to access funding for the recovery of Blue Mountain and low-lying coffee areas. He explains that the board’s search for funding was temporarily disrupted by the recent tsunami tragedy in Asia, however the search continues.
Mr. Dunkley notes that the recovery programme, once implemented, should go a long way in changing the outlook of the industry. “Once funded, it will dramatically transform the industry at all levels, (in terms of) the technical advice that we are able to deliver, the formation of effective grower groupings that we can deliver advice to, and the role of local monitoring committees in the growing areas to monitor the delivery of our advice and services,” he informs.
In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan wreaked havoc on the island resulting in extensive damage to the coffee industry. The CIB estimates that 45 per cent of the berries on the trees were blown off, the growers lost some $500 million, while the industry lost revenue estimated at US$7.7 million.
With some 10 months since the hurricane, Dr. Graham informs that the industry has not recovered sufficiently and that it may take up to three years before it gets back to its former days.
He explains that coffee growers, because of the loss of revenue, have not been able to employ the number of workers that they would need to execute the agronomic practices essential to recovery. Therefore, commerce in the central hilly interior of the country has declined substantially.
The Director tells JIS News, that having realized the heavy losses that the farmers and industry suffered, the CIB sought to give technical support to workers after the hurricane and did an analysis, which resulted in the development of the revitalization/rehabilitation proposal.
In addition, the coffee dealers provided some amount of credit for fertilizer and other inputs, but recovery to pre-Ivan levels will entail a much larger programme of assistance, he says. “We have also prepared a loan proposal that we are using to search for loan money separate from grant for a recovery programme for the industry,” he tells JIS News.
The revitalization/rehabilitation programme is central to the recovery process and as Mr. Dunkley explains, the goals is to increase the productivity of growers, “so that they can earn their way out of the current situation.”
Other objectives of the initiative, which the CIB hopes to implement over a three-year period, are to reduce the impact of hurricanes on farm income by maximizing yield and quality from remaining trees; restoring tree density to pre-hurricane Ivan levels within 2