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Jamaica to seek Geographical Indication (GI) for its Blue Mountain coffee

Jamaica Blue Mountain Festival

MILAN – In a bid to protect its renowned coffee origin from counterfeiting activities, Jamaica has decided to seek geographical indication (GI) from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for the Blue Mountain coffee brand.

The issue has been top of agenda for the Jamaica Coffee Exporters’ Association (JCEA), the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA) — which is the commodity board for the industry — and now Jamaica Promotions (Jampro), which falls under the ambit of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF).

Jampro’s President Dianne Edwards told a welcome dinner for a visiting team of Japan Coffee Roasters Association (JCRA) members at Knutsford Court Hotel last week that the pending GI registration would protect the integrity of the world-renowned Jamaican brands, and preserve their value internationally.

This was the first main visit of such a Japanese delegation in the last 15 years. Japan is the major partner for Jamaica in regard to the export of coffee beans. The country has agreed to extend its support in the initiative to obtain GI. Japan is the major partner for Jamaica in regard to the export of coffee beans.

She said that it is among a raft of initiatives, currently in the pipeline, to grow the island’s coffee industry, including the development of new coffee products and expanded production.

She noted that the GI was critical, as it would map the areas and elevations that would qualify the coffee produced in Jamaica as genuine Blue Mountain Coffee.

In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin.

Obtaining the GI tag will increase the revenue obtained from the export of the coffee beans. Jamaica’s move to obtain a GI tag was boosted with the endorsement of their Japanese counterpart. GI tag is granted by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Continuing her speech to the Japanese traders, Edwards said that, in addition to seeking the WIPO intervention, 200 coffee farmers from communities in the Blue Mountain areas of St Andrew are to benefit from the distribution of 50,000 coffee seedlings, with the establishment of the Blue Mountain Coffee Nursery.

The nursery was funded by the Japanese Embassy at a cost of $11 million, and the project, which has been implemented by JACRA, is also being assisted by the Ueshima Coffee Company of Japan.

“Jamaica also aims to expand production of High Mountain and Lowland coffees in order to diversify exports, and to support this, we are working to improve the quality of our coffee,” Edwards said.