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Coffee Fires in Jamaica

Coffee Fires in Jamaica

As we had mentioned previously, earlier in April fires destroyed somewhere between 50-100 acres of coffee plants in the Mavis Bank Region in Jamaica. This affects farmers in parishes such as St. Andrew, Portland, and St. Thomas. Fortunately no lives were lost, but the damage done from the coffee fires in Jamaica will effect farmers for earnings for two years including this one. A number that brings a total to $120 million that includes about 50 boxes of ripe coffee cherries which values at $1.5 million in value according to Senator Norman Grant in an article from the Jamaica Observer.

The coffee fires in Jamaica bring to light the fragile balance that coffee farmers work within as Jamaican Coffee farmers work to regain production from a 30 year low this past crop season. This unfortunately has created a very high demand as the prices for a pound of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee are at a staggering $70/lb. price tag in some retail & online establishments. This is of course part of the nature of supply & demand, but brings to mind how fragile our beloved Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee actually is.

Fortunately, there is some relief headed to the farmers affected by the coffee fires in Jamaica. According to The Jamaica Star Online, the government

Helicopters fight brush fires that destroyed some 50-100 acres of coffee

will begin distributing equipment and coffee plants to the farmers affected by the coffee fires in Jamaica. There has been $25 million allotted to help the farmers over the next ten months including supplies such as water tanks and seedlings for coffee plants.

Bear in mind that coffee takes three years to mature and bear cherry, this will take time to see full recovery. This combined with the coffee farmers being paid higher prices for their cherries give them an opportunity to plant new trees on their farms as well, and those who have struggled to maintain fields will be able to do so in a  sustainable manner.

What this means is that we may still see some higher than normal prices for our beloved Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee for a few years to come. As farmers are paid more, processors ask more for their services and so on, that is just economics, but bear in mind that Jamaica is still fighting to recover from two years of Coffee Leaf Rust as well as a drought last year that lessened production. These natural elements are always at force and play a major part in a crop’s production.

Let’s not forget the meticulous time consuming process of hand picking, processing and sorting that goes along with each crop’s harvest. Although 100 acres may not seem like a lot to some people, there can be as many as 600 plants per acre, and each plant produces 1-1 & 1/2 pounds of ROASTED coffee. At the rate of an average 40/6 ounce cups per pound; that’s an estimated 24,000 cups of coffee lost in the coffee fires in Jamaica.

Just something to think about the next time you enjoy a cup of “Absolutely the Best Coffee in The World”

Cheers ~ Reggie’s Roast Coffee