Samuda mulling changes to coffee industry
Amid speculation that the Jamaican coffee industry is poised to face a dismal future, Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda said the dim prospect could be turned around if certain changes are made.
"Japan has been very good to the Jamaican coffee industry, they have funded coffee farmers, they have served to assist us to develop farms, and we have to be grateful to them for the contribution they have made to the industry," said Samuda. "However, we are now almost totally focused and reliant on the market in Japan. It is now necessary for us to spread our wings, as it were, and to seek markets in North America and Europe and other countries."
Samuda, who spoke with The Gleaner following his World Food Day address at the Knockalva Agricultural School in Hanover on Thursday, said that, by finding new markets, the Jamaican coffee farmers would not have to be so heavily dependent, as they now are, on the Japanese pricing mechanism, which is the determining factor as to the earnings from the industry for the Jamaican coffee farmers.
He said the Jamaican Government is willing to cooperate and work closely with the farmers, and will offer the necessary protection from a legislative point of view.
"There has to be certain changes made in the industry, we have to take the appropriate measures to ensure that we encourage the development and the expansion of the High Mountain and Low Land coffee, to use as High Mountain and Low Land by itself, and also to mix and blend the Blue Mountain, so that the entire end product is Jamaican," the minister said.
Samuda stated that, at the moment, imported coffee beans are being mixed with the Blue Mountain beans and marketed as blended Blue Mountain brand. This, he said, should not be an indefinite formula, suggesting that a totally local product blend should be developed.
While underscoring the quality of the coffee grown locally, both at high and low altitudes, Samuda expressed the view that farmers, processors, packagers and all stakeholders need to join forces, with a view to increasing production and expanding the industry.