KINGSTON, Jamaica (Oct 4, 2017) – The Jamaica government says it has embarked upon a multi-million dollar initiative aimed at getting coffee farmers to improve and increase their yields.
Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda said that the J$80 million initiative will focus on training; the purchase of inputs, such as fertilisers and fungicides, and tools and ‘ “will commence almost immediately”.
He said 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, adding that the move is expected to increase the productivity level of coffee from the current 20 boxes per acre to 80 boxes per acre.
Samuda said the government is committed to supporting a vibrant coffee industry, both for export and to supply the domestic market and reminded farmers that the government does not set coffee prices, which are usually market-driven and determined by supply and demand.
Farmers are now being paid J$6,000 per box as compared to the J$10,000 per box they received last year. Coffee production moved from 201,000 boxes last year to some 230,000 this year.
But Samuda said the decline in the price resulted from a decrease in prices from the main buyer of the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, Japan, noting also 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.
He said the government will 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 will redound to the benefit of the industry and the country. – CMC