Sun | Dec 17, 2017

Protect local coffee

Published:Wednesday | November 22, 2017 | 12:07 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

This is an open letter to Althea McKenzie.

I am a senior citizen taking a keen interest in Jamaica's development. I asked myself why I have not written to you before. Your on-time broadcast each morning speaks of your commitment. Your command of English demonstrates to everyone that Jamaica is English speaking, and there is no need for Patois to teach people the way of life.

Your recent morning programme on the coffee industry is a great example of your intuition. You were talking about export of Jamaican coffee to China to offset the reduction of Japanese imports. You must be aware that the reason for the concern of Japanese imports is because they pay a very high price for Jamaican coffee, and we have suffered in the past with counterfeit products.

You may have noted that there is a suggestion that a cess be placed on coffee imported to Jamaica. WHY do we import coffee? They will say it is the World Trade Organization (WTO). What does the WTO do for us?

We do not import pork, as we are afraid of the foot and mouth disease. Consequently, smoked hams and bacon and pork chops are all Jamaican. We do not import bananas as we are afraid of banana disease. We are managing somehow to grow more Irish potatoes.

Jamaican tourism is number one in the world, and so is coffee; the two things will work well together. There is talk of the US Starbucks coffee franchise opening up in Jamaica, no doubt with imported coffee. Jamaica needs to take the bull by the horns and tell the WTO we are financially bankrupt and must abandon that trade agreement for 10 years or more until Jamaican manufacturing and agriculture can become more competitive.

KEITH HOBBINS

khobbins@cwjamaica.com