MINISTER of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw says that the Government is eyeing a possible US$100 – million grant from the People’s Republic of China to help rebuild the infrastructure of the local coffee industry.
‘We are looking at a grant of US$100 million to build out the infrastructure of the Blue Mountain coffee region, and we are working on that now,” Shaw told Saturday night’s inaugural awards banquet for contributors to the growth and development of the industry, which was hosted by the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA) at Jamaica Pegasus, New Kingston.
Shaw made the announcement while giving the keynote address at the function, following an appeal for increased government support for the industry from the JCEA.
“We cannot continue to preside over the decline of such a critical industry in Jamaica,” Shaw said, noting the huge decline in the export figures for Jamaican coffee between 2017/18 and 2019/20.
The minister, however, rejected the proposal to stop signing new licences for the importation of coffee.
“I am not here to preside over the continuing reduction and destruction of the Jamaican coffee industry,” the minister told guests at the function.
“We have got to turn it around, and in every crisis that we have there is an opportunity, and in this crisis we do have an opportunity. In fact, there are an abundance of opportunities among them – the Chinese opportunities,” he stated.
“So what I am saying to you is, let’s work together. I am not going to stop signing import permits, but I want us to work together to work out a formula, as genuine exporters, because we want to have significant improve in the production and export of Jamaican coffee,” he stated.
“We cannot continue to watch our local industry decline, while globally, the coffee industry is growing… As minister, I am committed to turning it around, and I applaud and celebrate with those who have been in the industry for so many years and have worked so hard,” Shaw concluded.