Jamaican Coffee Farmers Feeling the Squeeze

It’s not so much the weather that is causing problems for Jamaican coffee growers, but the economic climate in other countries, paired with an increase in the costs of coffee farming. The higher expenses and lower demand are squeezing some farmers out of the coffee business. Jamaican coffee, particularly the Arabica from the Blue Mountains, has received raves from connoisseurs for years. It has benefited from the cool moist mountain climate which has extended the growing season to ten months. This has helped the sugar content in a coffee which has been described as having a “smooth, nutty flavor and a deep intriguing aftertaste”.

“It’s tough and getting tougher” says one second-generation coffee grower. The global economic slump’s effect on Jamaican coffee demand has lowered the price the farmers get. At the same time, fertilizer, insecticide and wages have increased. To make things worse, some trees were damaged by storms. Any one of these factors could have been weathered if by itself, but taken together they are too much for the farmers, who are walking away.

The article by David MdFadden doesn’t mention the organic farmers, who don’t have the insecticide and pesticide prices to contend with. They have higher wage expenses of course, as organic requires more time and effort. It also doesn’t attempt to look at the future of Jamaican coffee if farmers let trees go and cease working them. But one fact is clear: coffee lovers are losing access to one of the world’s finest coffees.

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