Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. 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,” the Minister said.
Mr. Shaw’s remarks were read by Minister without Portfolio in the Economic Growth and Job Creation Ministry, Hon. Daryl Vaz, at a press conference to launch Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day and to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) offices in New Kingston on January 4.
The MOU, which was signed by JAMPRO, JACRA and the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA), establishes a formal framework to guide a promotional campaign and marketing strategy to support the Jamaica Blue Mountain and Jamaica High Mountain coffees.
To be observed on January 9 between Jamaica and Japan, the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day is being 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 marks the day the largest shipment of coffee left the port of Kingston en route to Japan in 1967.
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,” Mr. Shaw said.
He pointed out that the training institute, which is to be housed at JACRA, will be fully operational by September.
Mr. 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.
In his remarks, Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiromasa Yamazaki, said his country is the largest consumer of Jamaican coffee, with an average of 70 per cent of coffee being shipped to that country.
He said Japan public- and private-sector interests have visited coffee farms in Jamaica, such as the Clifton Mount Coffee Estate and the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory and have invested in the Japanese-owned Ueshima Coffee Company, Craighton Estate, located in Irish Town, St. Andrew.
“We recognise their significant efforts to produce and promote (Jamaica) Blue Mountain Coffee locally and internationally,” he said.
For his part, Chairman of the JCEA, Norman Grant, said the association plans to establish a Secretariat and engage with social media to promote and rebuild Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.