Coffee industry remains weak over 5 years after Irma & Maria
Sen. Ramón Ruiz Nieves
By THE STAR STAFF
The Puerto Rican coffee industry has not not recovered, and growers expect that this year’s harvest will be only between 35,000 and 55,000 quintals, officials revealed Thursday in a public hearing of the Senate Government Committee, chaired by the Ponce District Sen. Ramón “Ramoncito” Ruiz Nieves.
The data was provided by the secretary-designate of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO by its Spanish acronym), Hiram Torres Montalvo.
“The reality that everyone should know is that this disparity of 10 to two, of foreign versus local coffee, has the real effect of limiting the options that consumers have,” Ruiz Nieves said. “Check those labels well when buying coffee.”
With regard to coffee prices in the distribution chain, for the use of consumers they will remain free of traditional control, Torres Montalvo said in a presentation submitted to the committee.
The hearing, which was held Thursday in the Luis Negrón López Hall of the Capitol, was conducted in accordance with Senate Resolution 647, which addresses the rise in the price of coffee, as discussed by DACO, the Department of Agriculture, and the Farmers Association, as well as the Puerto Rico Agronomists Association. Similarly, the committee summoned coffee roasters José Torres Olivencia and Germán L. Negrón, along with the Association of Coffee Buyers and Processors and the president of the Farmers Association’s coffee sector.
Maricao Mayor Wilfredo “Juny” Ruiz, a prominent coffee grower, agronomist and former president of the Puerto Rico Coffee Processors Association, was also called to depose before the committee.
The determination by DACO for the increase in the price of coffee was made in accordance with Provisional Order 1 of Regulation 8578, which lasts for 12 months, establishes the minimum price to the farmer for mature almud bean coffee (22 units of almud make a quintal) to $18.
A quintal is roughly equivalent to a little over 3.5 bushes.
Imported semi-roasted coffee sold through the Administration for the Development of Agricultural Companies was set at $375 per quintal of arabica and $256 per quintal of robusta. That order is also provisional for 12 months.
“It is assumed that DACO will be constantly monitoring the market to evaluate, month by month, its behavior in case an adjustment is needed,” Ruiz Nieves said.