MANDEVILLE — Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Montague, has said that there is to be an urgent restructuring of the Coffee Industry Board, and new management strategies to ensure that farmers get the best price per box of the bean.
“There are two critical strategies for the coffee industry, the first is diversification of the market, and the second is adding value to our green bean coffee in the form of roasted coffee, liquor and confectioneries, and other proposed strategies to improve the net payment to the farmers,” the Minister stated.
He was delivering the keynote address at the 116th Annual General Meeting of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), at the Denbigh Agricultural Showground, Clarendon, Wednesday July 13, 2011.
He told the gathering that the proffered bidder for the divestment of the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory has been chosen, and that the Development Bank of Jamaica has announced that the divestment of the Wallenford Coffee Company has commenced. The divestments of the two entities will aid in moving the coffee industry forward and providing a better deal for farmers.
The Minister said he has mandated the Coffee Industry Board to review current marketing arrangements and the cost of production, with a view to increasing the minimum price that can be paid by coffee dealers for the 2011/2012 crop. He announced that his ministry will also be providing training for the coffee industry.
Mr. Montague said that he has instructed the Coffee Industry Board and the Ministry to work out an input supply programme, for carefully selecting farmers who are willing to subject themselves to training and extension advice, to increase coffee production and engage international partners to fund the programme.
“We have to look at increasing the price of the box of coffee bean to the farmers, we cannot ask our farmers to invest in production and offer them a price that is uneconomical, it cannot work,” the Minister stated.
He said significant marketing efforts for Jamaican coffee are underway in China, Japan, Europe and the United States and, as demand increases, the price for coffee will rebound to a better price for farmers.
On average, coffee fetches $2,300 per box for the Blue Mountain brand, and $1,500 per box for the High Mountain brand.
By GARFIELD L. ANGUS, JIS Reporter