Written By Shravya NB (Grade 10)
Located in the continent of North America, extending to about 134 miles, this little island of Grenada, also known as the spice island is known for its production of Nutmeg- a spice used in most baked items, herbal remedies and essential oils.
Nutmeg production has been a part of Grenada’s history for over 100 years. Nutmeg production is an important profession in Grenada and provides income to about thirty per cent of the isle’s population. In its prime time, it produced approximately two thousand tonnes of nutmeg every year, earning revenues up to thirteen million dollars per annum.
Grenada’s Nutmeg industry suffered a setback in the years from 2002 to 2004, when Hurricanes Evan and Emily destroyed more than ninety percent of its nutmeg trees. With the technical and commercial developments, Grenada’s nutmeg production was twice as high and has ideally poised for global growth in market share.
Even though Nutmeg is resistant to drought, it protects soil and watersheds, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) considers Nutmeg to be the most vulnerable spice to extreme weather conditions. The Nutmeg trees take a minimum of four years to produce fruit and it takes twenty years to reach a stage of full production. The shallow roots of the Nutmeg trees are easily uprooted by fast winds. Farmers are adapting to such vulnerabilities by creating windbreaks, and shelterbelts using trees such as bamboo and citrus in the path of damaging winds. Farmers cultivate Nutmeg along with cocoa, banana and root crops through intercropping has been an effective measure for soil protection.
The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) are optimistic about the growth of the sector based on an alternative propagation method called grafting to increase nutmeg productivity by converting hundreds of male trees into female fruit-bearing ones. In 2019, the GCNA purchased over one million pounds of Nutmeg from farmers for adding value to products for export. There has been a significant demand for value-added products as they offer substantial economic potential.
While Nutmeg seeds are used in the manufacturing of oils, butter and in cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, the outer pericarp is used to make jams, jellies and the red membrane mace is widely used as a seasoning.
Another noteworthy profession linked with the production of Nutmeg is “Nutmeg Tourism”. It has been gaining popularity in recent times. The Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station is one of the largest nutmeg processing factories on the island. A tour of the factory allows the visitors to see the workers grade and package the nutmegs for the market. Exploring the “Nutmeg World” at the end of the tour for packaged spices and other locally made tokens will definitely make your tour a memorable one!
The demand for spice has been increasing over the years and it received an impetus in June 2019, when US Food and Drug Administration acknowledged the Grenadian nutmeg, allowing it to exploit untapped opportunities within the US export market. Grenada’s impressive yields make it a significant producer and exporter of spice. The market developments, nutmegs’ superior quality creating its demand and their ability to attract premium prices shall give way to an era of the “Black Gold-Nutmeg”.
Nutmeg is the main reason the island is now called the “Isle of Spice”. Not just that, the spice also promotes the culture and tradition of the people as in The Grenada Spice Festival. The role Nutmegs play in the country’s economy, society, culture and industry make it a part of Grenada’s national flag as well!
Featured Image Courtesy – Encyclopedia Britannica