JIS News

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Donovan Stanberry, has appealed to the island’s coffee farmers to form a strong lobby group, which would represent their best interests.
The Permanent Secretary, who was addressing a stakeholders’ workshop at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston recently, said that, “we’re very concerned in the Ministry that an industry like the coffee industry with so much potential, is besieged by so many problems. One thing that is noticeably absent from this industry is a strong farmer organization and it is very clear that there can be no other grouping in this country that has a greater interest in the coffee industry than the farmers themselves.”
Coffee farmers, he pointed out, had a vested interest in the industry and therefore must show interest in their own welfare.
According to the Permanent Secretary, a lot of things are needed to strengthen the industry such as access to loans, assistance with farm inputs and pest management, and farmers must get organized to address those issues. “From where I sit, our role in the government is regulation; proper regulation and research and extension, and once we have done our bit, we expect everyone else to do what they can to make the industry function,” he stated.
He informed that at a recent meeting with various management stakeholders, the matter of a compulsory insurance scheme for the industry was examined and at a later date, Minister Roger Clarke, would make a formal announcement on the decisions reached at that meeting.
“Our immediate priority right now is to look at a more sustainable insurance arrangement for the industry and to tighten the regulations so that some of the problems identified with payment systems, quality management and other hindrances can be addressed,” he pointed out.
Mr. Stanberry informed that a group of farmers had recently written to him, requesting a meeting, and he would be willing to meet with the group to see how government could assist them to better take charge of their own welfare.

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