Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee farmers in St.Thomas, St.Andrew, and Portland will be receiving a $60 million payout between them from the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory. Mavis Bank Coffee Factory is paying those who supplied coffee to the factory between the months of August and December last year.
Senator Norman Grant, managing director and CEO of the coffee factory released this information over the weekend. He stated that the payment will include payment for inputs and will cover sums owed to coffee farmers. The payments will be based on a pricing scale of $3,200 per box supplied, which is $200 per box more than the farmers were paid for the previous crop. Grant also noted that based on the data collected by the Coffee Industry Board, the total production at the end of February was 145,000 boxes, with projection by the end of July being 180,000 boxes. This is 30,000 boxes less than last years 210,000 boxes. He believes this shortage is a result of Hurricane Sandy in October of last year, which was followed by an outbreak of leaf rust disease.
“Together, both have accounted for a loss in production of the present crop of close to 35 per cent of the value of the crop, and an estimated loss of over US$5 million in revenue from the current crop,” Grant said
The early payment for this year will help to provide farmers with the funding to fertilize trees and apply fungicide to control the leaf rust disease.
The payments began on Monday in St.Thomas and will continue through Wednesday, ending in St.Andrew.
Mavis Bank together with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Coffee Industry Board, and members of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association have come together to implement a program to help combat the leaf rust disease by providing fungicide to the farmers with which to spray their fields. Funding of $8 million from the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries is supporting this effort. A $4 million program is also being implemented by the Mavis Bank factory to dispatch mist blowers and operate spray teams in the Blue Mountain Coffee areas, as well as training over 3,000 farmers.