Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says the long term sustainability of Jamaican coffee is contingent on local stakeholders maintaining consistently high standards in quality and production.
He said this is key, if Jamaica’s reputation as a leading global coffee producer is to be maintained and the stakeholders, primarily the farmers, marketers and retailers are to reap benefits.
Speaking at the launch of a joint Competitiveness Coffee Enterprises Programme between Jamaica and Guatemala, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on July 15, Dr. Tufton noted that Jamaica was renowned globally for its flagship Blue Mountain and High Mountain coffee brands.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton (second left), speaking with Chief Operating Officer, International Coffee Organization (ICO), Jose Sette (left), during Thursday’s (July 15) launch of the Competitive Coffee Enterprises programme at the Jamaica Conference, downtown Kingston. Also pictured are: Director General, Coffee Industry Board (CIB), Christopher Gentles, and First project Manager, Common Fund for Commodity (CFC), which is co-funding the project, Caleb Dengu.
He said that both products fetch retail prices of between US$5 and US$30 per cup in China, one of Jamaica’s largest markets. However, he pointed to the need for inputs, other than renowned brand recognition, if the local industry is to be sustained.
He said that there has to be consistency in terms of output, in both quantity and quality, and perceptions have to be confirmed by the consumers.
“It is that combination that translates into a consumer who is willing to pay the price which, of course, trickles down to all the critical stakeholders and provides the sustainability that is required. If you are not consistent, whether in quantity or quality, then you compromise your brand, and I think it’s important for all of us to appreciate that reality,” the Minister said.
Dr. Tufton suggested that more lands be used to cultivate coffee, pointing out that a lot more markets exist that can take advantage of the product.
“On a global scale, the market for coffee consumption is, in fact, growing, it’s not shrinking. There are derivatives of the coffee beans, the energy drinks and the cold drinks, and so on, that have tremendous potential,” he explained.
From a policy perspective, Dr. Tufton said the Ministry is embarking on a programme to determine how best to diversify Jamaica’s markets for coffee beans and products, apart from those associated with the Blue Mountain and High Mountain brands.
“We have to now, put our minds to that, develop the products that we have a reputation for developing and take advantage of the brand reputation that we have in the marketplace,” Dr, Tufton contended.
The Competitiveness Coffee Enterprises Programme between Jamaica and Guatemala, was initiated following Jamaica’s participation in the International Coffee Conference’s (ICO) World Coffee Conference in the Central American nation in February.
The programme, to be administered in both countries over the next three years, seeks to improve the competitiveness of coffee farmers in the northern and central regions of the island; develop the administrative capacity and value-added component of coffee cooperatives earmarked to benefit from the initiative; and increase local consumption, among other provisions. Corresponding benefits and provisions will also accrue to Guatemala.
The overall programme in both countries is being executed at a cost of US$4.3 million, with financing being provided by the international funding agencies: Common Fund for Commodities and Oikocredit. The Coffee Industry Board (CIB) and Guatemala’s National Coffee Association – Anacaf