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JIS News

Chairman of the Coffee Industry Board (CIB), Joseph Johnson, has said that the recently held industry stakeholders’ meeting was a success, noting that a number of issues affecting the sector were raised with a view to finding appropriate solutions.
Mr. Johnson told JIS News that he was pleased with the vibrancy of the meeting, which was held at the Medallion Hall Hotel. “The level of interest showed by the stakeholders, their level of participation and the issues raised were relevant to the coffee industry,” he said.
Among the issues raised by the farmers, which the CIB Chairman stated would be seriously considered by the board, was the need for more assistance to increase productivity at the farm level. “We feel that.through our advisory services, we can help to train more extension officers and to increase our advisory staff, so we can have a bigger impact in helping the farmers with good agronomic practices,” he stated.
Increasing productivity, he pointed out, “would undoubtedly create a bigger industry in terms of total quantity of coffee produced and farmers would definitely benefit from greater income.”
The farmers also raised concern about the inability to access low interest financing and Mr. Johnson said that while this was not within the power of the CIB, “we will try our best to help by way of leverage.”
Chairman of the Eastern St. Ann Coffee Growers Co-operative, Amin Jalaal, said the workshop was timely and beneficial to the coffee growers. “All that has been discussed at the workshop is very important to turning the industry around and should have a very positive outcome,” he told JIS News.
The discourse from the workshop will be included in a study being conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers to determine the sustainability and viability of the coffee industry. The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.
Mr. Johnson pointed out that the final document would represent almost a starting point for the board as it seeks to move the industry forward over the next three years. “This would be the true starting point as to where we want to move the industry in terms of production, productivity, quality, better out-turn from processing, marketing, diversification, and promotion of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.”
He lamented that while Jamaica’s coffee fetches one of the highest prices in the world, coffee farmers were dissatisfied with their earnings. “How can we be getting this price for our coffee and people are not happy. Something is wrong and we are trying to find out what it is,” he said.
“It therefore means we need to look at our cost centres and strive for greater productivity and the way we do business,” he added.
He assured that the Board would commit to the recommendations of the final report.