$10M ground coffee project launched in Santa Rosa

The production of ground coffee in the Moruca Sub-District will recommence following the launch of a $10 million project by the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to redevelop the industry in Region One.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs on Monday, the project was launched on Sunday in Santa Rosa Village, Moruca, by Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe.

It was noted that the project is among several green sustainable initiatives to be executed in the hinterland in 2018 and is intended to significantly boost the region’s economy.

It was also noted that the Moruca area was once a coffee producing region and Santa Rosa was chosen due to the number of resource persons who are knowledgeable of the process.

The statement said the village will select 12 farmers to each plant an acre of coffee for what is intended to be a “family oriented project” producing ground Robusta Coffee.

It was noted that Robusta Coffee plants usually start producing flowers approximately three years after planting and the Ministry has already crafted a plan which will sustain farmers through the period until the fields are ready for harvesting

According to the statement, the seedlings will be purchased from Brazil, which will see 600 plants planted per acre. Money will also be invested for the setting of seeds, clearing of fields, preparing planting holes, and transportation of plants, among other things.

According to the statement, the village council is now tasked with submitting to the Ministry in the next two weeks the names of the 12 farmers selected for the project and establishing a Coffee Famers Cooperative Society. It also has to identify suitable farmlands so that testing of soil can commence.

Also assisting with the project are the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and the Ministry of Business.

While NAREI will help with setting of seeds and nurturing of the seedlings, as well as the educating of farmers on the correct planting methods, the Ministry of Business will be assisting with packaging of the product. Additionally, the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) will be providing the necessary training for persons in the employ of a related facility once construction is completed.

Garrido-Lowe, the statement said, underscored the need for farmers to be committed to the project if it is to be a success.

“Coffee planting has a science to it, it has do with the type you grow, how you nurture it, how you pulp it out, when and how to roast it; a lot of emphasis is placed on the growing of it and the roasting…. and that is what I would need from the twelve farmers. I would need dedication and devotion to this project,” she was quoted as saying.

“With hard work and dedication Guyana could become a coffee producing nation and that’s what we are aiming for. And we cannot do this alone so we will be partnering with several key stakeholders, among them the Ministry of Social Protection, both BIT and the Cooperative Departments, the Ministry of Business and the Ministry of Agriculture through NAREI and the New GMC,” Garrido-Lowe added.

It was further noted that a visit to neighbouring Brazil, one of the largest producers of coffee in the world, is also on the cards as it could will give farmers an opportunity to network and in the process acquire firsthand information on the operations of the industry there.

“At least three or four of you will be identified from among the farmers to go and visit Brazil to see for yourselves how ground coffee is produced from beginning to end….because we are not going for nothing less, we are going for a quality product. Santa Rosa coffee must be known for its special blend. The demand will grow and we will have employment for more farmers” the Minister explained.

Garrido-Lowe also stressed the importance of branding, noting that the Moruca Brand like the Pakaraima Flavours, will have to live up to expectations.

The launch of the project was well received by famers and residents alike, including Toshao of Santa Rosa and Islands Sherwin Abrams, who said the selection of farmers will be undertaken based on the commitment.

Abrams, according to the statement, said, “We aren’t talking about trial and fail, we have to be committed and that has been our failure and we have to find a way of overcoming this, we have to be long term. We cannot take a miner and identify him to be a coffee farmer, so I’m very much pleased with the layout of the plan by the Ministry for the coffee project and the success of this project depends on the residents.”

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