Bartlett Invites Private Sector Investment in Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett is urging players in the private sector to invest in the highly successful Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival (JBMCF) to truly reap the economic benefits of the groundbreaking event.
This as Minister Bartlett revealed that the Ministry of Tourism is seeking to hand-over the event, which is the Caribbean’s only coffee festival, to private sector entrepreneurs within the next two years.
The disclosure was made as Minister Bartlett gave the keynote address during the launch of the 6th annual staging of the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival at Devon House yesterday (January 9). The event will be held at Newcastle on Saturday, March 25, 2023. The Minister called on the various coffee growing and product manufacturing entities to capitalize on the opportunity being given to them to take responsibility for the festival and develop it into a major international event.
He said the team within the Ministry and its public bodies had carefully examined the concept of the festival and its potential for growth and earnings “and we want that to become an international event.”
“I am challenging the investors to come on board now to invest in the coffee festival. We will market it through the Jamaica Tourist Board on our platform,” said Minister Bartlett. He expressed confidence that “we could be bringing thousands upon thousands of people annually for this coffee festival, and that’s what I want to see.”
In underscoring the benefits of private sector investment, he said: “We’re inviting investment and if we can’t get local investment you know I’m going to go look investment because this festival must not be a simple event that we host every year; it must be an international event that brings thousands of people here and provide income and revenue for the country and the well-being of our people.”
The JBMCF was conceptualized in 2018 as a key initiative of the Gastronomy Network of the Tourism Linkages Network, a division of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF). With support from public and private sector partners the festival has become a highly anticipated event on the local calendar.
Minister Bartlett explained that the Ministry of Tourism has invested some $100 million in the festival to date and this year has earmarked another $25 million for the event. He said with the event having been truncated over the last two years by the COVID-19 pandemic, “we’re coming back with a bang this year, stronger, better, more exciting, more alluring and a more all-embracing coffee festival,” declared Mr. Bartlett.
Coffee is said to be the second most consumed liquid, next to water globally with the Jamaican brand enjoying pride of place among world brands. Mr. Bartlett expressed that: “If we really tap into the value chain of coffee, we could create an entire economy around the product, and perhaps that’s an ambition that we should work towards.”
Players in the agriculture sector are among critical partners in the coffee festival and Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jnr underscored that “this partnership is very important.”
He welcomed the range of valued-added products being produced by young farmers with coffee and the move to create even more by infusing coffee into meals; “so there’s an exciting opportunity to have the intrinsic taste profile that is loved by so many discriminating connoisseurs across the world.”
Minister Charles stressed that there is a global market for Jamaicans to tap into, “not just to contribute to our gross domestic product but to contribute to the lives of our farmers.”
Among stakeholders participating in the coffee festival launch were Chairman of the Gastronomy Network, Mrs. Nicola Madden-Greig; Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill; Member of Parliament for St. Andrew East Rural, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness; and Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Japan, Mr. Ken Nakamura.