The Blue Mountain Coffee crop has had on going issues that have come home to roost for the 2013-2014 crop season. The coffee berry borer beetle infestation in 2011, Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the coffee leaf rust epidemic which shortened output for the 2013 crop. This is all on top of the fact that Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is an already high demand/low supply crop that gets consumed mostly by the Japanese market. The Blue Mountain Coffee loss over the last two crop years has gotten to be a high priority for Jamaica’s agricultural government groups.
In an article from The Jamaica Information Service speaks about Senator Grant wanting to impose a tax on imported coffee. This would hope to help revive the industry and help with Blue Mountain coffee loss with the tax money being set aside to expand the struggling Jamaican Coffee Industry. “The coffee leaf rust and coffee berry borer diseases have devastated the industry, resulting in a US$10 million loss over the last two crop years. Our coffee production has declined from close to six million pounds and export sales of US$35 million in the 1990’s to about two million pounds and export sales of US$25 million at the end of 2013,” Senator Grant informed.
Declaring that the coffee industry is in a state of emergency, Government senator Norman Grant has called for the imposition of a cess on imported coffee. Photo Courtesy of The Jamaica Gleaner article 3/15/2014
Those are some staggering numbers considering the volume has been cut by two-thirds in under 15 years and if something is not done now, it could spell worse than where we currently are. The local Jamaican coffee industry, at its peak, employs 12,000 farmers and indirectly impacts the lives of 102,000 rural persons, so there is more than coffee at stake. While there has been some recovery, which can be seen in the increase in the price paid to farmers for each box of coffee, more needs to be done to further protect the sector. This patch will help the Farmers out short term, but a broader solution still needs to be met in order to cease the Blue Mountain coffee loss and attain long term growth. The increased payments may net a higher cost at retail, but the intent is to provide Coffee Farmers with the resources to maintain the fields after harvest to reduce berry borer beetles and hopefully plant new coffee trees.
Senator Grant therefore called for a massive resuscitation program for both Jamaica Blue Mountain and non-Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, pointing out that the industry has an export value of US$100 million, while the local coffee market could earn as much as $2 billion. He further said there is need for another national disease eradication program to continue the progress already made by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries last year, under its $8 million program.
Time will be the determining factor in how long it takes to control the leaf rust and considering since a new coffee tree takes 4-5 years to produce quality cherries, this is no overnight solution to the Blue Mountain Coffee loss over the last two crop years. In the meantime, as both Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Farmers and Roasters, Reggie’s Roast Coffee will continue through the adversity to bring our Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee freshly roasted and in to your cup.