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Insurers, not Gov't, must bail out coffee farmers

Published:Monday | July 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The Government has been putting together bailout packages to jump-start Blue Mountain coffee cultivators whose farms were affected by fire in various locations.

While the Government should be credited for its responsiveness, the appearance should never be given that it is the safety net or first line of buffer for an industry which is strictly private-sector oriented.

Recall that the Government, only a few years ago, rightly relinquished its interest in Wallenford Coffee, an entity which, at that time, represented a 75-85% stake in Jamaica's local industry. In doing so, the Government sent the strongest of signals, including that coffee should be privately driven and directed and not burden its coffers.

Where, then, is the coffee crop insurance which operated in the recent past quite well? This scheme must be revitalised so that the perils that afflict this important sector might be mitigated.

If, after the insurance company meets its obligation, the Government wants to flex its visibility, it may do so, but certainly not be seen as the mainstay.

DERRICK SIMON

Golden Spring

Kingston 8