Regional

Grant says resuscitated coffee industry could earn US$100 million annually

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 17, 2014    

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OCHO RIOS, St Ann — President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society and the CEO of the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory, Senator Norman Grant says a resuscitated coffee industry could earn the country more than US$100 million annually.

Senator Grant, who was addressing Monday's function for the first draw of the 'Cruising on Carnival with JABLUM" promotion at Harbour Shops here in Ocho Rios, said all stakeholders, including the Government, must play their role in reviving the sector.

"I [want to] use this opportunity to call on the stakeholders, including the Government, to find a way to do what I call a massive coffee resuscitation programme," Grant said.

"The coffee industry in Jamaica can generate revenues in the region of US$100 million per annum. Right now we are down to about $30 million and in years gone by the industry was generating up to US$50 million," he added.

He said that coffee production had fallen from six million pounds 15 years ago to two million pounds in 2013. He attributed the massive decline to the coffee leaf rust disease, which cost farmers approximately US$5 million last year.

He was, however, hopeful that production will get back to the six-million-pound mark within the next three to five years, saying that the Mavis Bank Factory was playing its role in the rebuilding efforts.

"As a part of our efforts to rebuild our farmers we have increased the prices by over 35 per cent," the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory head said. The increase will see farmers receiving $5,000 for a box of coffee-an increase from the $3,200 that they were offered last year.

He explained that a number of farmers who had left the fields are now going back to resuscitate their fields. Mavis Bank is supplied by approximately 6,000 farmers in 90 districts.

As part of its initiatives to revive the coffee production, Grant said the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory had issued some 16 pumps to serve the 90 districts which now supply coffee to the factory. Extension officers, he said, were also working with the farmers to fight against the coffee leaf rust disease and other issues affecting coffee growth.

As part of its growth programme, the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory recently completed the construction of a waste treatment plant at a cost of $100 million to make sure that the company was not only producing coffee of the highest quality, but doing so at good environmental standards, Grant said.

He added that within the next six months the factory would be rolling out plans to capitalise on the local value of the coffee industry.

According to Grant, Monday's draw was a part of the company's appreciation to its customers. Judith Fletcher, winner of the first draw in the promotion, will receive a five-day cruise for two on the Carnival Victory to the Grand Cayman. The second draw will be held in May 2014.

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