Jamaica News: Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, is lauding Salada Foods for injecting $200 million into the coffee industry, noting that the development will provide a secure market for farmers.
The company is purchasing 25,000 boxes of local coffee under a pilot project, with the objective of identifying a long-term business option.
A total of $100 million will be paid directly to farmers, and the balance used to process coffee berries to green beans, which is local raw material used by Salada to manufacture instant-coffee products.
Salada’s response is as a result of a fall-off in purchases of Blue Mountain Coffee by traders in Japan, which is the main market for the island’s premium brand.
Due to a high inventory of the produce on the Japanese market, the traders have refused to meet the price being demanded by the growers.
Speaking at a joint press briefing on Monday (November 19) at The Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston to outline details of the plan, Minister Shaw said Salada Foods must be commended for the “foresight and vision in taking a potential crisis and turning it into what may end up being a golden opportunity”.
He noted that the company is replacing some of its imported coffee with locally grown beans.
Describing the move as “bold and innovative,” Mr. Shaw said it demonstrates the value of market-driven initiatives that will see Salada Foods benefiting from a consistent supply of local green beans to suit their manufacturing needs.
He urged the farmers to make good use of this avenue to offload their produce even as “we work together to (see) better days”.
“The company’s intention to provide a guaranteed avenue for our farmers to offload their product goes a long way towards settling the concerns of farmers, who need additional markets to ensure that the hard work they put into cultivating this world-renowned agricultural asset will be sold, ensuring their livelihoods and investments,” Mr. Shaw told the gathering.
He assured investors and farmers in the industry that the Government is committed to working with stakeholders towards “charting a path of even greater success”.
He noted that the Economic Growth Council (ECG) and the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), among other groups, are looking at long-term solutions for the sector.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, who attended the press conference, also hailed the move by Salada Foods, noting that it has brought relief to coffee farmers.
Chairman of Salada Foods, Patrick Williams, said the coffee sector is very important to the Jamaican economy, hence his company’s initiative to ensure stability in the sector.
Meanwhile, General Manager at the company, Dianna Blake Bennett, said that all the necessary parameters are in place to ensure the success of the initiative, including the hiring of a consultant with credible experience.
She said that come Tuesday (November 20), there will be a rollout of depots in designated communities in the Blue Mountain, and she encouraged farmers to “bring their cherries and we will certainly purchase them”.
Source: JIS News