JIS News

Efforts to enhance the production and quality of coffee for greater impact on the export market are well under way with the sixth training seminar for coffee farmers carried out by the Coffee Industry Board (CIB) in Montego Bay on Thursday (Feb. 26).
The seminar targeted 50 leading representatives from coffee farming clusters from St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland and was held under the theme: “Effective communication and discipline – the key to the sustainability of the Coffee Industry”.
Participants who were expected to be trainers of farmers in their respective areas, were instructed on several topics including, significant changes that had surfaced in the ‘coffee crop insurance scheme’, and how they could go about claiming for losses that might have resulted from hurricane and other such disasters.
Louis Campbell, Advisory Service Manager in the CIB Regulatory Division, pointed out that farmers in the industry had been suffering from wide ranging challenges affecting productivity over an extended period of time.
“Notwithstanding the difficulties that exist in the industry, we are trying to find innovative ways and means to stimulate farmers to get back into meaningful production . I want all farmers to know that there is a guaranteed market for coffee and if they can achieve the highest level in quality, they stand the chance of receiving a high of $1,300.00 per box for their coffee,” Mr. Campbell told JIS News.
He noted that farmers were being encouraged to increase productivity on a per hectare basis, targeting 80 boxes instead of the average 20 boxes.
Training and Public Relations Co-ordinator at CIB, Seiveright Dixon, told JIS News that every effort was being made to sensitize all coffee farmers islandwide about the industry and how they could access assistance.
“Increased production and better quality of coffee will lead to the best price, hence we are going all out to work with the government to implement programmes of assistance for coffee farmers in terms of farm input such as fertilizer and chemical. We are in the process of establishing demonstration plots throughout the length and breadth of Jamaica to make farmers more aware of new technology in coffee production,” he informed.
Albert Chang, a coffee farmer for 10 years in Eastern Hanover, lamented the low returns and rewards from coffee. He contended that the industry seemed to be dying slowly and the only hope was to encourage the youth to enter farming.
“Unless we as coffee farmers receive some form of help from government in the area of subsidy on fertilizer and other areas of production, and the young people are somehow motivated into coffee farming, then the industry will die,” Mr. Chang insisted.
Coffee is said to be the second most significant crop in the farming industry, providing direct and indirect employment for some 150,000 persons. Statistics have shown that more than 65,000 boxes of coffee were reaped last year, down from the regular 100,000 for previous years, earning some $40 million for the country.