THERE may be a boon on the horizon for local tobacco farmers as cigarette marketing and distribution company Carreras Ltd is making plans to purchase from them to supply the global market.
Managing director of Carreras Richard Pandohie said the company is seeking to work with local stakeholder groups to standardise the growing of the plant as individual farmers are planting according to their own styles and tastes.
"What we want is to work with the farmers to get the quality up to a particular standard that we can buy it and sell it within the global supply chain. Right now it is very ad hoc with no standards being applied. The idea is to treat it like coffee, with good standards for the world market," Pandohie said yesterday.
"We are trying to work with the Jamaica Agricultural Society and RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) to get this going as soon as possible," he added.
Pandohie was speaking with the Jamaica Observer following a church service at the Lighthouse Gospel Assembly in Spanish Town to mark the company's 50th anniversary in Jamaica.
The company, located at Twickenham Park in the old capital, has planned a number of activities to celebrate the milestone, including a cultural gala in Spanish Town Square tomorrow evening; the presentation of 50 scholarships valued at over $8 million on Wednesday; and a customer appreciation day.
Pandohie expressed optimism that the government is getting on top of the twin problems of counterfeit and contraband cigarettes plaguing the industry. Contraband refers to cigarettes brought into the market without the payment of customs duties, whereas counterfeit cigarettes are inferior ones produced and sold with the intention of deceiving the consumer that they are a particular brand.
The managing director said the Hong Kong police confiscated a container of contraband cigarettes en route to Jamaica from China two weeks ago. He provided no further information as customs officials were still investigating the incident.
"We are seeing some positive results; our last quarter results were positive and that was mainly related to the reduction in counterfeit," Pandohie said.
"Contraband is still high, but we are seeing good signs. The situation is that the government needs every dollar out there that belongs to it, and this is an area that they are going after, not just in the tobacco trade, but in business at large."
Carreras made $805.7 million in profits for the three months up to June 2012, an increase over the $523.4 million made in the corresponding three months in 2011.