Wallenford, Mavis Bank bow to protesting coffee farmersThursday, September 20, 2018
TWO of the island's large coffee companies, Wallenford and Mavis Bank, have reportedly agreed to make final payments to farmers for the 2017/18 crop.
Coffee Growers' Association Treasurer Donna Meredith told the Jamaica Observer last evening that the farmers, who had locked the gate to the Wallenford factory in the St Andrew hills since Monday, were awaiting the arrival of the companies' representatives with the payment.
“The farmers are not leaving until the money is paid,” Meredith said. “The companies have agreed to $46 million of what is owed and they are to give us a promissory note to pay the other farmers who are not demonstrating at the gate, by Friday.”
The farmers, who say they are owed more than $120 million for the crop, last week rejected a $60-million donation from Michael Lee-Chin, whose AIC International Investments bought Wallenford for US$16 million in 2013.
Lee-Chin is also a shareholder in Mavis Bank Coffee Factory.
The $60-million donation was reportedly given to the Ministry of Agriculture to be issued to the farmers in kind through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority
On Monday, the farmers described Lee-Chin's donation as disrespectful, a position that was reiterated last evening by Meredith, who also said that, going forward, any agreement reached with the coffee companies must be given to the farmers in writing as trust has been eroded.