Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Audley Shaw, says the government is embarking upon a drive to increase tree densities on coffee plantations from the current average of between 600 to 650 plants per acre to 800 plants per acre.
This, he noted, is to be done over time and is a part of initiatives being undertaken to stimulate future growth of the coffee sector.
Shaw was addressing the inaugural awards banquet of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA) at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Saturday.
Other initiatives to boost growth of the sector, Shaw noted, include the provision of fertiliser assistance, supplies and training to coffee farmers, which is being facilitated by the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA) under the Productivity Incentive Programme.
“To date, approximately 27,000 bags of 25lb fertilisers have been distributed to registered farmers in the Jamaica Blue Mountain and Jamaica High Mountain regions. We do need to talk more about this because we have additional fertilisers available,” Shaw noted.
Meanwhile, he informed that a grant is being sought from the Chinese government of US$100million to build out the road access infrastructure in the Blue Mountain region.
He noted that this will assist in increasing production and quality of the Blue Mountain coffee.
In her address, President of the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, said her organisation is committed to working with the JCEA to build up the coffee industry and to find new markets.
Chairman of the JCEA, Norman Grant, in his remarks, noted that the coffee industry is seeing a “slow and steady recovery…as the market is now reordering.”