KINGSTON — Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon Dr. Christopher Tufton, says the Government will gradually dismantle commodity boards, and replace them with a structure with minimal state involvement, maximum private sector entrepreneurship and Jamaican brand protection.
"Our position is that commodity boards today, whether it is the banana board, the coffee board, the cocoa board or the spices board, are outdated. They are no longer relevant to the times that we live in," he explained.
Dr. Tufton was speaking at the launch of the country’s first Jamaica Blue Mountain (Jablum) decaffeinated coffee, by the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston on Tuesday April 12.
The Ministry has undertaken the first study of a major project towards this restructuring, and consultations are being held with the various stakeholders, he said.
“The truth of the matter is that commodity boards, for the most part in their traditional form, are a hindrance to private sector development and expansion. They don’t help the process,” Dr. Tufton commented.
He stated that while this structure worked in the past, when commodities were being exported to Europe for set prices and in set quantities, the regime has changed.
“Europe has changed, laws have changed, trade arrangements have changed and we should be wiser that commodities (boards) are not going cut it anymore. We are a country that has a brand, Jamaica, and we should position that brand, using our own intellectual capacity,” he asserted.
Jablum decaffeinated coffee is a collaboration of the company’s United States-based agent, Blue Mountain Coffee Inc. and Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company Inc., a Canadian coffee plant.
“This achievement represents a coup, because Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is universally regarded as the world’s finest and, therefore, fetches a premium price in the specialty coffee market,” Chief Executive Officer of Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited, Senator Norman Grant, told the gathering.
He explained that Swiss Water processes the beverage to 99.9 per cent caffeine free, with a chemical free process that uses water from the mountains of British Columbia, Canada and a proprietary caffeine-specific carbon regeneration technology to remove the caffeine.
“Leading the science of decaffeination, the Swiss Water process was chosen not only because it is an environmentally friendly decaffeination method, but also because it maintains the unique characteristics of the world renowned Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee,” he stated.
Close to one million pounds of coffee green beans are exported, in barrels and bags, under the Mavis Bank label, predominantly to Japan (70 percent) and the Untied States, and in smaller quantities to Europe, Canada, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. China is the most recent, following a shipment by the Coffee Industry Board last week.
In addition, some 400,000 pounds of coffee is roasted at the Mavis Bank plant, and sold under the Jablum brand, both as roasted beans and roasted and ground products.
The Mavis Bank Coffee Factory, formed in 1920, is Jamaica’s oldest coffee factory and largest processing facility.
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter