FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ROGER CLARKE, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES MINISTER ANNOUNCES $29 MILLION EMERGENCY INPUT PLAN TO COMBAT BERRY BORER INFESTATION AND IMPROVE COFFEE NUTRITION
Thursday, February 23, 2012
KINGSTON: In an effort to rescue the Jamaican coffee sector, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is providing $29 million dollars in emergency aid to combat the infestation of farms affected by the coffee Berry Borer pest, and to improve nutrition. The money will be used to purchase inputs such as chemicals and fertilizer.
The Coffee Berry Borer is posing a serious challenge to our farms and is recognized as the most significant pest to coffee crops worldwide. If not contained, farmers could lose between a third and fifty percent of their production and the sector over $430 million if left unchecked.
But speaking at a press conference at the Ministry's Hope Road offices this morning (Thursday, February 23, 2012) Roger Clarke, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister said "in recognition of the challenges facing the coffee industry, we have approved a grant of $29 million of which $9 million is earmarked for assistance to the Coffee Berry Borer Task force, and $20 million is to be focused on providing badly needed fertilizer for the farmers within the coffee industry." It is estimated that this grant will impact on some 4,000 farmers and will contribute some 30-40% towards a better crop for the 2012/2013 crop year, Minister Clarke said.
The Minister noted that fertilizer will only be distributed to farmers who have registered with the Coffee Industry Board and who have delivered coffee within the last 24 months.
Meanwhile, Derrick Simon, President of the Jamaica Coffee Growers' Association, and Senator Norman Grant, 1st Vice President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society and Managing Director and CEO for the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited, who attended the function, praised the government for their intervention citing the need for the sector to be saved.
The Coffee Industry Board has set up a task force to work with stakeholders aimed at raising public awareness and to devise a strategy to reduce the population of the berry borer pest and the implications of the pest. Equally important, the 20 million dollar contribution is an important shot in the arm in terms of nutrition for the coffee crop, but this will have to be supported additionally by supplies from the Licensed Coffee Dealers and farmers in order to have a meaningful effect on the 2012-2013 crop in terms of quality and the quantity of the crop.