Jamaica Government Examining Long-term Solutions to Advance Coffee Industry

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz (right, standing),  observes as President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards (second left, seated),  signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Also signing (from left) are Chairman of the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Dennis Booth and Chairman of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA), Norman Grant. Standing (at left) is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Dermon Spence. (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday January 17, 2019 – Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Audley Shaw says the Government is examining long-term solutions that will place the coffee industry in a better position.

Among the solutions suggested is the reduction of infringements on the Jamaica Blue Mountain and Jamaica High Mountain coffee trademarks on the international scene, as well as locally, through the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA).

It also includes variety monitoring activities to ensure adaptability and disease resistance.

“Variety trials have, so far, been carried out on two farms… one in the Blue Mountain region and the other in the Jamaica High Mountain region. Approximately 20 varieties are being evaluated with quality evaluations slated to begin shortly,” he said.

Shaw’s remarks were read by Minister without Portfolio in the Economic Growth and Job Creation Ministry Daryl Vaz, at a press conference to launch Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day and to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which establishes a formal framework to guide a promotional campaign and marketing strategy to support the Jamaica Blue Mountain and Jamaica High Mountain coffees. The MOU was signed by JAMPRO, JACRA and the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA).

Other solutions being examined are the implementation of a coffee nursery policy to guide the way nurseries operate, in order to adequately regulate and monitor varieties that are cultivated; and the establishment of a coffee training institute, aimed at certifying the regulatory cup testers.

“The (nursery) policy is currently in its draft stage and will be completed by the first quarter of the financial year 2019. The regulatory cup testers would lead the way as certified trainers for the industry stakeholders, including coffee shop personnel, coffee makers in hotels and restaurants,” Shaw said.

He pointed out that the training institute, which is to be housed at JACRA, will be fully operational by September.

Shaw advised that the Government wants to position local coffee as an essential ingredient in the increased production of a range of value-added products, such as liqueurs, candles, soaps, scrubs, sweets, chocolates and ice cream.

“An expanded value-added production will ensure a sustainable Jamaican coffee industry and contribute, ultimately, to a sustainable agricultural sector,” he said.

For her part, JAMPRO President, Diane Edwards, said her entity’s role will be to coordinate a number of agencies and companies in a national effort “to reposition the brand of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee and Jamaica High Mountain Coffee to build the whole industry”.

“We need to raise the industry and to raise the profile of the brand. We have a premium product, we have an amazing brand, but that brand has been underserved in the international market,” she said.

Japan is the largest consumer of Jamaican coffee, with an average of 70 per cent of coffee being shipped there. In his remarks, Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica Hiromasa Yamazaki said his country recognizes the significant efforts to produce and promote Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee locally and internationally.

Observed January 9 between Jamaica and Japan, the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day was held in recognition of the formidable relationship forged between the two countries since 1953 when Jamaica sent its first shipment of coffee to the Asian country. It also marked the day the largest shipment of coffee left the port of Kingston en route to Japan in 1967.

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