$80-million initiative to help registered coffee farmers
Registered coffee farmers are to benefit from an $80-million initiative that is expected to improve and increase their yields over time.
The project, which falls under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries' Productivity Incentive Programme, will focus on training, the purchase of inputs, such as fertilisers and fungicides, and tools.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday at the ministry in Kingston to provide an update on the coffee industry, portfolio minister, Karl Samuda, said the initiative "will commence almost immediately".
He informed that the Coffee Industry Board will be responsible for disbursing the supplies. "They have all the farmers registered, so it will commence almost immediately, because they need it (the assistance) immediately," he said.
Samuda explained that the move was expected to increase the productivity level of coffee from the current 20 boxes per acre to 80 boxes per acre.
He said the Government was committed to supporting a vibrant coffee industry, both for export and to supply the domestic market.
On prices in the industry, he reminded farmers that the Government did not set coffee prices, adding that the prices are usually market-driven and determined by supply and demand.
Farmers are now being paid $6,000 per box as compared to the $10,000 per box they received last year.
He pointed out that the decline has resulted from a decrease in prices from the main buyer of the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, Japan.
Samuda further noted that the Japanese have also invested in improved storage systems, allowing them to better preserve and store the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee for longer periods.
The minister said the Government would be taking a multipronged approach to improving the industry, including market diversification, increased productivity and production of the Blue Mountain, High Mountain, and lowland coffee varieties.
He said collaboration among the farmers, processors and exporters would redound to the benefit of the industry and the country.