Coffee loss to bush fire estimated at $180m

Coffee loss to bush fire estimated at $180m

16 May 2015

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Jamaica —  THE Jamaica Coffee Industry Board (CIB) has estimated that the industry will suffer losses of approximately $180 million in the next three years resulting from the bush fire that has devastated farms in a large section of east rural St Andrew.

CIB chairman Delano Franklyn gave the estimate during a tour of the Stoneleigh Coffee Factory in Mavis Bank in St Andrew on Wednesday.

“In terms of the cost, when combined, current loss is about $60 million. However, it takes approximately three years for a coffee tree to mature and bear, so we are talking about $180 million which will be lost in coffee over the next three years,” said Franklyn.

He stated that the board would have to pay quick attention to sourcing seedlings to assist coffee farmers as soon as possible.

Franklyn added that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, through the CIB, has identified a source that will provide the required seedlings.

However, he said that he was not in a position to disclose information on the source of the seedlings at this time.

“We are committed, the Coffee Industry Board, that is, to see how best we can help these farmers that have been affected and we are in the process of identifying and, in fact, we have already identified where it ought to be coming from,” said Franklyn.

“We have not yet concluded our discussion with the principals who are involved. As a consequence of which [it would be] premature to inform you exactly where they will be coming from,” he said.

Franklyn, however, said that he was confident the source had sufficient seedlings in place to assist the affected farmers.

He added that based on information from field officers the fire has affected approximately 40 farmers.

“These are farmers who would occupy lease holdings and some who owned small holdings; only one large farmer has been affected in any way by the fire. In terms of the total loss, the acreage which has been affected by the fire, and this relates to coffee, is some 70 acres,” Franklyn said.

He added that 90 per cent of the crop was already harvested prior to the bush fire.

Bush fires have been ravishing sections of the hilly St Andrew terrain over the last 12 days, and have affected a number of communities, including Mavis Bank, Violet Content, Guava Ridge, Craig Hill, Lime Tree, Tower Hill, Salt Hill, Forest Park Hill and Flamstead.

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