The second annual Blue Mountain Coffee Festival kicked off on Friday (March 1), with a trade development workshop for farmers, processors and retailers at the University of Technology (UTech) campus in Papine, St. Andrew.
The session featured several seminars and networking sessions facilitated by representatives from the Tourism Linkages Network (TLN), Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Newport- Fersan Jamaica Limited, among others.
Chair of the Gastronomy Tourism Network, Nicola Madden- Greig, said the objective was to improve the skills, knowledge and ability of industry stakeholders to keep producing the best yields and the highest quality of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.
Giving an overview of the three-day coffee festival, being held at New Castle, St. Andrew, Mrs. Madden-Greig, said the event is part of a strategy to promote Jamaican gastronomy both locally and internationally.
“This is our second year having this event. Last year was our first endeavour and we plan to make this an annual event to showcase Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee…[and to] showcase how tourism and agriculture as linkages can work together, as well as manufacturing and the other sectors in the industry,” she said.
“This weekend promises to be very interesting in terms of interacting with all the persons who make Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee special – those who produce it, process it and those who take it to the consumer,” Mrs. Maddden-Greig added.
Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Peter Thompson said that although the industry has faced challenges from disease, weather, among other things, Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee remains a high-demand product globally.
“Over the years, we have seen a decline in the industry, specifically the Blue Mountain brand, and even lowland coffee… but what I want to tell you is the Blue Mountain Brand is alive. It is here to stay. What we need to do is to improve on our productivity,” he noted.
“We have a very good brand and we want to promote it. I am hoping that through this (festival) we can diversify our markets, so that we can realise the true potential of this brand,” Mr. Thompson added.
The Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival will showcase the rich tradition of coffee production in the Blue Mountain region, and will feature Blue Mountain Coffee and coffee-related products, food stalls, tastings, demonstrations and workshops.