Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, has said that measures are being put in place to assist the coffee industry, which is facing challenges due to the current global economic climate.
Dr. Tufton explained that while most of the coffee produced locally is sold outside of Jamaica, with Japan being a key market, there has been a decline in the demand for coffee from Japan.
“For many years the Blue Mountain Coffee has been pre-purchased, pre-financed by the Japanese market, by buyers in Japan and others who, essentially, in simple terms, provide an advanced payment to the market companies, which is used to pay the farmers to get the beans which are processed and sent back to Japan or other markets,” Dr. Tufton said.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton (centre) shakes the hand of Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshi Yamaguchi, after the signing of the contract for the Eco-friendly coffee production project. Looking on at left is Director General, Coffee Industry Board, Christopher Gentles Minister. The contract was signed Thursday (June 17) at a ceremony at the UCC Craighton Estate, Irish Town, St. Andrew.
However, because of changes in the environment, he said that the resources are no longer available and there is a reduction in the demand for the coffee beans, compared to previous years.
“In fact, the Japanese market demanded 40 per cent less coffee this year than the year before and previous years. In addition to that, they indicated that they were unable to provide the kind of pre-financing that they would normally provide. It threw the market into a tailspin,” the Minister explained.
As a result, he said that alternative plans are being put in place to assist farmers in the industry.
“Firstly, we are looking at the storage possibilities. How do we store the excess inventory that we have, in order to preserve it for an extended period of time, so when the market picks up we can supply it with the excess that we have,” Dr. Tufton said. He also noted that alternative markets are being observed.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton (left) enjoys a conversation with Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshi Yamaguchi (right) and Director General, Coffee Industry Board, Christopher Gentles, at the contract signing for the Eco-friendly coffee production project Thursday (June 17) at the UCC Craighton Estate, Irish Town St. Andrew.
He said that Jamaica was having dialogue with dealers in North America, Europe and Korea, where samples of the coffee have been sent and distributed in small quantities, in order to build the options of markets that are available throughout the world for a high quality product.
“I believe that over the next two to three years, you are going to see Blue Mountain Coffee represented in all parts of the world, in a quantity that minimises the vulnerabilities that we have had to confront,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Japan’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshi Yamaguchi, stated that the project is being funded by a grant of $4.5 million from the Grassroots and Human Security Grant Projects of the Japanese Embassy.
He also informed that under the project, over 150 farmers in Irish Town and Red Light Districts will receive training and skills development in eco-friendly coffee production over a one year period.
Additionally, four members of staff from the Coffee Industry Board (CIB) will be trained in methodologies to spearhead the biological control, and Berry Borer trap making production initiatives, at various coffee farms across Jamaica.
“Eventually, these eco-friendly methods aim to significantly reduce the use of agricultural chemicals that pose a threat to human health, food security and drinking water,” Ambassador Yamaguchi said.
In his comments, Director General, CIB, Christopher Gentles, noted that the project will allow for a reduction in the use of chemicals to fight diseases. He also added that it will form a pilot “for a roll out for the culture we want to develop for the coffee industry.”