Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Gold - Jamaica's Treasure Ignored

I briefly glimpsed a bit of a news clip late last week which was mentioning that cofee was the next biggest item traded on the market behind oil....huh? what? I didn't get to see the entire news piece but that stuck in my head. As a coffee lover and knowing what I shell out for a cup especially in the US I wondered to myself Isn't our Blue Mountain Coffee world famous or renowned or something?

I pushed it to the back of my head.....

This morning the headline in the Gleaner of the govt shelling out J$22M to consultants to tell us how to create off-shore banking or some other crap along with the J$22B contract Ashtrom won and then finally the fact that we were again suffered another rating downgrade this time by Fitch brought this back to mind.

Why is it we don't invest in the things we do best? That for lack of a better term come "naturally" to us? One of them being coffee farming? Instead we shell out millions and billions of investments that never come to light, end up falling apart within a matter of years or offer no ROI.

This Black Gold we have on our hands is no joke.....Coffee is an $80 BILLION Industry. The US has an $18B coffee market of which specialty coffee sales are increasing by 20% per year and account for nearly 8% of the market.

With the US being the closest of mass coffee consumers nearest to us let's look at their consumption trends:

  • COFFEE STATISTICS: show that among coffee drinkers the average consumption in the United States is 3.1 cups of coffee per day.
  • COFFEE STATISTICS: 50% of the population, equivalent to 150 million Americans, drink espresso, cappuccino, latte, or iced/cold coffees.
  • COFFEE SHOP FACTS: Independent coffee shops equal $12 billion in annual sales.
  • COFFEE SHOP FACTS: At the present time there are approximately 24,000 Coffee Shops across the country. Statistics show there will be approximately 50,000+ Coffee Shops by the year 2010.
  • COFFEE SHOP FACTS: The average Espresso Drive-thru Business sells approximately 200-300 Cups of Espresso and Coffee Based Drinks per day.

According to the National Coffee Association & Speciality Coffeee Assoc of America in their latest research over 50% of Americans over 18 years of age drink coffee every day.

When you break down their data that means:

The 50% represents over 150 million daily drinkers. If that is not a staggering number their reserach also shows that 30 million of American adults drink specialty coffee beverages daily; which include a mocha, latte, espresso, café mocha, cappuccino, frozen/iced coffee beverages, etc.

So blah blah blah Tara! WTH does this matter that's America not Jamaica.....True but as I mentioned above behind OIL it (Coffee) is the 2nd largest IMPORT in the United States. Yes that is correct....and guess what if they're importing it that means they aint growin' it or enough of it to meet their market demands

Just so you know-->>Coffee is the most widely served's available any and every where

Wondering where they get their coffee from? I was too so I did some checking and this is what I found:

Columbia commands the biggest piece of the $4 Billion coffee import pie with 20.7% and Brazil not far behind with 17.1% -- you may be wondering if Jamaica is in there anywhere....yes indeed we are however we're less than .4% falling behind Yemen, Canada & France.

I have to buss out a big rahtid laugh....Yemen....Canada.....France? Can you imagine? Even Papua New Guinea mashing us up commanding 1% of the US import market.

See for yourself:

What's the Big Deal you may say? the big deal is that our Blue Mountain Coffee is a friggin big's rated/ranked as some of the BEST coffee in the World. Yes Blue Mountain may be a bit more on the pricey side but we also produce High Mountain coffee.

Did I mention that production wise we produce more coffee than Papua New Guinea, Kenya & Vietnam but all of those countries have higher import #'s from the US.

Isn't that crazy???? Well u aint seen crazy yet because in September of this year (2009) the Coffee Industry Board sent out a release stating that Jamaica's multi-billion dollar coffee industry had become the latest sector to be hit hard by the prolonged global economic fact they were scrambling to find monies locally to purchase cherry coffee which is critical to maintain their world class quality. Yep.....maybe I didn't mention a key piece of info:

Jamaica currently earns up US$30 million or more than J$2 billion annually from coffee exports.

So why aren't we investing in making this into a $10 Billion or let's start small even a $5 Billion earner for our country? Why aren't we spending this surplus of cash we've seem to have found to "spruce up" the country, build private airports, buy chairs and houses for our government or even employing Chris Zacca at 5.7M (part time) to provide high-level advice and support to the prime minister on the development and implementation of policies, strategies and key initiatives designed to support the achievement of national socio-economic objectives (phew that's a mouthful). Couldn't we take even a wee bit of that to turn a US$30M earner into a US$50M earner? Maybe Zacca could look into this as a "key initiative" anyone have his #?

There are so many opportunities and now with the whole going green there's an increase in demand for Organic Coffee not to mention the by-products of coffee (husks, skins & substitutes containing coffee). So with this push by Minister Tufton to re-engage persons in framing & agriculture why not coffee farming? why not look at the multitude of opportunities that could come from this....including job opportunities.

Brazil employs over 5 million people because of the coffee trade; most of those are involved with the cultivation and harvesting of more than 3 billion coffee plants.

They see the coffee industry an investment and maybe that's why they command 17.1% of the US import Market.

Mind you we haven't even touched on the demand for Coffee & RTD (read to drink) Coffee Beverages abroad....especially in Asia (Japan & China).

Speaking of which I had simply shared a few facts/stats in relation to the USA I had not even touched on Asia - Japan especially and it's affinity to Jamaica, Coffee & Reggae - come the hell on - is that not a Golden Goose waiting to lay an egg or what?? Japan is ranked the 3rd in the world for coffee consumption.

Here are a few interesting facts in relation to coffee internationally:

1. Coffee shops make up the FASTEST GROWING part of the restaurant business, checking in with a 7% annual growth rate!
2. World coffee production is estimated at 110 - 120 million bags per year!
3. 14 billion espresso coffees are consumed each year in Italy, reaching over 200,000 coffee bars, and still growing!
4. Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, or equivalent to 146,000,000,000 (146 Billion) cups of coffee per year; making the United States the LEADING CONSUMER of coffee in the world.
5. Japan ranks number 3 in the world for coffee consumption.
6. Coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States.
7. Café Bars average sales of 230 cups a day.

Sounds like an opportunity doesn't it? We already have the basic foundation (climate/soil/knowledge) all it takes is for the government to recognise the possibilities and make an investment on what is sure to be an ever-growing market

Guess all I can do is hope they'll plant this bean & the country can benefit from it's growth....

Monday, November 16, 2009

The White Elephant In The Room....

I read this letter to the Editor today in The Jamaica Gleaner & felt I needed to share it in my does indeed capture what is happening in front of our very eyes - our own state of crisis is like the white elephant in the room:

LETTER OF THE DAY - Hypocrisy and distractions
Published: Monday November 16, 2009

The Editor, Sir:

I have resisted commenting on the whole Gaza-Gully issue, but after reading The Gleaner on Saturday and seeing an open letter from Howard Hamilton, QC, I really saw red.

I was reminded that some years ago, around the spring of 1988, there were many stories making the rounds about 'Shirley's duppy'. Many people were caught up with this duppy nonsense. Artistes were doing songs about Shirley's duppy and the newspapers were running stories every day about the duppy. There were stories about where she came from and to whom she was speaking and against whom she came to seek vengeance.

I also remember a Rastaman saying to me after hearing some people talking about the duppy: "Mek dem idiots gwan talk bout duppy while politician a run di place in the ground." I asked him what he meant and he explained that whenever a government was messing up, they would seek to distract the people from its failings and the real issues at hand.

Gaza-Gully-Alliance feud

In recent times, the Jamaican media have been fixated on the so-called Gaza-Gully-Alliance feud as if this is the reason for everything going downhill in Jamaica. By doing this, the media are also promoting the worst of these artistes' music much more than they would otherwise have got.

The economy is falling apart, crime spirals out of control, the country does not have a 'fully appointed' police commissioner and the minister of national security is out on sick leave. A former deputy police commissioner has recommended that the entire police force be dissolved and rebuilt; there is no governor for the central bank; and the country is back on its knees to the International Monetary Fund, yet people are distracted by Rampin' Shop and the Gully Side war.

The source of Jamaica's problems is not the Gaza-Gully conflict. I am not a fan of Vybz Kartel or Mavado and I find a lot their lyrics, for the most part, vile and showing ignorance. But the simple fact is they are entertainers and their first job is to entertain whomever is paying them. It is not their jobs to teach, lead, secure, or create job opportunities for the country. I would love them to use their influence and do these things but that is not their job.

Accountability and justice

The politicians, the judiciary and security forces who are being paid by the taxpayers are the ones who need to be held accountable for their ineptitude and blatant disregard for the well-being of the citizens of this country. How many guns do these artistes bring in? How many corrupt police personnel do these artistes employ? Did any of these artistes steal any light bulbs? How much of taxpayers' money are they using to build their houses?

We can try and fix Jamaica or we can keep casting blame and using the entertainers as distractions. We need a system of accountability and justice. I am not a big fan of Peter Tosh either but I know that at least one thing that he sang about rings true to this day: There can be no peace without justice.

I am, etc.,
New York

Monday, November 9, 2009

Commitment Not Wanted Around Here....Being Single & over 30

It's been a while since my last blog. I got back to Jamaica the harsh reality of life set in and side-tracked me.

Now that I've settled back in and looked around I find myself asking the same question so many...hmmmm...maybe ALL of my single female friends ask. Where have all the good guys gone?

So I decided that my inaugural JA blog would be my view of being single and over 30 in Jamaica...and the USA.

I'm no beauty queen but as they say in JA "nuh tree nuh grow innah me face" but unfortunately (or is it fortunately) I did get caught up in my career for a loooong time...I figured that whole marriage/children thing could wait. To be honest - I never did want to get married. I was never that little girl who had her dress, ring, church, bridesmaids etc picked out. I did however want someone I could share my life with and possibly children. I've dated good guys actually great guys and I've dated the "bad boys" - I've been proposed to and I made my trust me I get it

Having had the benefit of really good male friends I got to see a little more than the average chick of how guys think & act. So very early out I knew what was what - I'm that chick that knows most men cheat & am really not gonna kick his ass about it but at the same time I don't expect him to have it in my face & I do expect him to use a condom.

I'm also not the type of girl who jumps from bed to bed...I don't do one-night stands, I don't use one man to get over the other and I'm not comfortable sleepin w/a man bcuz he's willing to pay my bills. So it makes it a bit more difficult in the modern day "romping shop" masked as the dating scene....

So what do you do if you:

  1. don't go to a club/party/bar every night to meet men

  2. don't pick up guys at random

  3. don't believe in maintaining a man

  4. don't feel comfortable with sharing a man with 4/5 different women

  5. don't believe in having sex w/someone ur not attracted to for financial gain
  6. don't want to be his constant "booty call"

I'll answer that for you: You hang out with the same group of friends, inevitably complaining that you're not meeting anyone new watching weeks, months and years go by. Or you end up in a relationship that deep down inside you know isn't going anywhere but you stay because you know that the alternative/prospects are so dim that you might as well stick with the "evil you already know." You avoid kiddie parties, couple events or majour family dinners in order not to be plagued by the same questions over and over...."So when are you getting married? No babies for you? Who are you dating?"

I am not sure what the statistics are in Jamaica but in the US Forty-five percent of black women in America have never been married, compared with 23 percent of white women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey in 2006.

or according to Oprah's story 70% of black women in the US are single

What I can say about the ratio of eligible single men to single women in Jamaica is its definitely skewed! Trust me on that single female friends are independent, in great careers, great senses of humour and good-looking.....the problem? They are over 30...That means that they are now thrust unwillingly into competition with not just the women in their age bracket or socio-economic category but high-schoolers, "gold-diggers or Looseys", 20 somethings and of course the college crew. The men have the advantage....

They need have no direction, steady job (as long as the can hustle to present an image of such), be in good physical shape or even have a proper command of the English fact they don't even have to be matters not. They'll still have a stack of women waiting in the wings.

So does it surprise us that the ratio as of 2007 at The University of The West Indies (Mona) was 82% female to 18% male?

Now if that isn't a gap I don't know what is....It's also a glimpse into the further divide that exists for single women today especially over 30. It's lie.

Having heard the tales from friends of how the guy tells them after a few weeks - "dem did know what him did want & is not a relationship" or "if dem caan sen on a 10 gran or suh fi tek care of some tings" or better yet never ask them out just constantly text about having sex w/them....why would a woman want to put herself through this.

I haven't dated in years....the thought of facing what's out there is frightening because the attitude of the men whether uptown, midtown or downtown is the same. They have no time nor desire to "date" they want sex w/out the strings/commitment and frankly if they don't get it from you they'll get it elsewhere. If I thought it was an "urban legend" I did hang out w/ a nice guy recently and had it recently confirmed - #1 desire for single men out there a friend w/benefits...commitment not wanted around here. At least he was upfront but then you have to ask yourself do I hang with him again? Or is it just a complete waste of my time? Or do I just go straight cougar and date a much younger guy....btw I just had one ask me out by calling me a "big woman?" woooow I felt like a granny....but you take it in stride & adjust your jerk magnet and hope it's working properly.

It makes you want to give up and I have gorgeous and amazing female friends who basically have done just that. Locked themselves away because they're tired of the games and disrespect. It's even worse when your married friends say "You're too picky" or "There are plenty of good guys out there - you just not looking." So to salvage the friendship you bite your tongue and make a hasty retreat back to your single friends who understand the plight. Frankly if you're not a single woman in today's world past a certain age you cannot understand what it's like.

It's dismal out there if you're unwilling to compromise your standards, body or self-respect but I am on the never ending search to find out where have all the good guys gone....