Tourism Ministry moves to reduce coffee imports
Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett says his Ministry, through the Tourism Linkages Network, will be spearheading a series of activities to help increase local consumption of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee in the tourism sector, while also finding strategic ways to decrease the high-level of coffee imports to the island.
The Minister revealed that the first major activity by the Linkages Network, to directly assist the coffee industry, is the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival which is scheduled to take place from March 23 to 25, 2018 in Newcastle, St Andrew.
The festival will feature workshops for coffee farmers, exhibitor booths, food demonstration, a barista completion and opportunities to purchase coffee products. It also targets coffee connoisseurs, investors and suppliers from regional and international markets – including Cayman, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, USA, Europe, and Canada.
Speaking at the launch of the inaugural Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on January 23, the Minister shared that “a core part of the strategy is to ensure that more earnings from the industry are retained locally to aid in increasing the production of coffee. Not only do festivals attract visitors, thus stimulating tourism, but they also promote growth and create more business opportunities for people in the communities.”
The festival will also feature the coordination of an Incoming Buyer Mission through the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) that will provide local producers of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee access to new and existing markets. This will act as an industry specific platform for setting up business matchmaking appointments between coffee buyers, processors and exporters.
The Minister also disclosed that his Ministry has partnered with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to bolster their efforts, as well as to create economic opportunities for farmers in the tourism sector by providing bigger markets to their products.
Later this year, the Tourism Linkages Network is expected to introduce a series of initiatives to equip local farmers to meet the needs of the tourism sector and by extension reduce the imports of key goods. This includes an Entrepreneurial Training and Coaching Programme to help farmers to better understand the industry, allowing them to tailor production, distribution and logistics to match the requirements of businesses in the sector.
“We are putting in the architecture to ensure that people and communities across Jamaica benefit from the approximately US$3 Billion that we are earning from the tourism industry annually. The Tourism Linkages Network must therefore ensure that we do all we can to plug the leakages that currently exist. We must offer support to our farmers and increase consumption of our locally manufactured products in the tourism industry,” said Minister Bartlett.