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  • As part of a strategy to re-build the coffee industry, Government Senator, Norman Grant, has called for the imposition of a cess on imported coffee.
  • He suggested that this levy could be placed in a special fund to be used to expand the local coffee industry.
  • Coffee leaf rust and coffee berry borer diseases have devastated the industry, resulting in a US$10 million loss over the last two crop years.

As part of a strategy to re-build the coffee industry, Government Senator, Norman Grant, has called for the imposition of a cess on imported coffee.

He suggested that this levy could be placed in a special fund to be used to expand the local coffee industry.

Senator Grant, who is also President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), made the call while making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Upper House on Friday, March 14.

He said the coffee leaf rust and coffee berry borer diseases have devastated the industry, resulting in a US$10 million loss over the last two crop years.

“Our coffee production has declined from close to six million pounds and export sales of US$35 million in the 1990s to about two million pounds and export sales of US$25 million at the end of 2013,” Senator Grant informed.

He noted that while there has been some recovery, which can be seen in the increase in the price paid to farmers for each box of coffee, more needs to be done to further protect the sector.

Senator Grant therefore called for a massive resuscitation programme for both Jamaica Blue Mountain and non-Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, pointing out that the industry has an export value of US$100 million, while the local coffee market could earn as much as $2 billion.

He further said there is need for another national disease eradication progamme to continue the progress already made by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries last year, under its $8 million programme.

The local coffee industry, at its peak, employs 12,000 farmers and indirectly impacts the lives of 102,000 rural persons.