Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Johnson Drigo is defending Government’s decision to import coffee beans from ALBA countries to kick-off operations at the coffee plant.
Since it can take up to five years for coffee crops to be ready for processing, Government has secured 2,000 tonnes of coffee to begin production while farmers are engaged in growing their stock.
At a town hall meeting last week, Hon. Drigo addressed speculation on Dominica’s ability to sustain coffee production.
He used as an example, Barbados’ importation of fruit resources into Barbados for its production and exportation of boxed juices.
“The chocolates which you eat- they say Switzerland has some of the best chocolate-it’s also one of the coldest areas on earth therefore you will not see cocoa trees growing there.
“We have decided to import coffee as a start. Our objective is to ensure that we rehabilitate and increase our acreage of coffee. Some of the best coffee can be found in Dominica therefore, the plan is well-structured. We will import coffee until we are self-sustainable,” he said.
The Agriculture Minister says budget allocations to further develop the crop total over $1m.
Recently, five nationals were trained in Venezuela and will soon take up fulltime employment at the plant.
In the national budget address last month, the nation’s Hon. Finance Minister, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit revealed that the Division of Agriculture has also identified 400 farmers currently growing coffee or who are interested in growing the crop.
The farmers are concentrated in over nine communities across the island.
In addition to the export value, 22 new jobs will be created directly with the operationalization of the coffee plant.