Jamaica imports around 433 tonnes of green coffee beans each year to shore up its own supplies.
The imports represent around $300 million (US$2.3 million) of expenditure annually that critics say can be better spent domestically to provide jobs and grow coffee output.
The foreign beans are blended with expensive Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) coffee for sale locally and overseas. It’s done to create a cheaper blended coffee, especially for the hotels and some cafÈs. Consumers can still buy 100 per cent JBM at twice the price, or about US$60 per pound roasted.
On Wednesday, Karl Samuda, minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, announced plans to impose a cess on coffee imports in an effort to incentivise local production of cheaper coffees, called ‘lowland’.
The new policy is a victory for the Jamaica Coffee Growers’ Association (JCGA), whose members lobbied for the cess.
Published in the Gleaner
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