Coffee exporters seek $200m gov't supportFriday, November 13, 2020
BY BALFORD HENRY
President of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA)Norman Grant is seeking Government intervention to the tune of $200 million for a recovery programme for the country's coffee farmers.
According to Grant, during a recent meeting of the JCEA, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green committed to contributing $80 million to the coffee recovery programme through the Jamaica Agricultural Commodity Regulatory Authority.
Grant said the JCEA welcomed this move and has asked that it be expedited.
“In addition to this COVID-19 fallout, the extended period of rainy weather has resulted in an estimated loss of more than $100 million, through the loss of reap cherry berries which have fallen off the trees, loss of coffee trees due to landslides on the farms, and increase in the cost of operation due to road blocks to and from the farms, as well as blockage of main roads primarily in the Jamaica Blue Mountain Range of East and West Rural St Andrew, East and Western Portland and Western St Thomas,” Grant said.
“As such, we urge the Government to grant a further intervention above the $80 million, in light of the continuous impact of the weather on the sector,” added Grant.
The JCEA president said the intervention from the Government is critical to ensuring the survival of the more than 5,000 coffee farmers who grow Blue Mountain and High Mountain coffee, and who are now facing reductions in demand and sales of their coffee in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
'“We are all aware that the [novel] coronavirus outbreak has thrown Jamaica, our coffee exporters and companies, and the entire world into uncharted waters,” said Grant, as he argued that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the Jamaica coffee industry in many ways.
Grant charged that the industry has seen a more than 90 per cent reduction in roasted coffee sales as most hotels have closed, with tourist arrivals down sharply while the consumption of roasted coffee by Jamaicans is down as well due to decline in restaurant and supermarket business.
He said there has been a build-up of inventory of non-exportable Jamaican coffee being held at processors and no new export orders are being received, as major markets are also facing economic downturns due to the pandemic.
Grant argued that COVID-19 is also expected to negatively influence the demand for coffee in the next crop year.