by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
2017 was another challenging year for both cocoa and nutmeg farmers after having to face a reduction in nutmeg price on the international market in February. The Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) managed to record some major achievement during the last nutmeg year under review, which includes paying $1 million in bonus to farmers this year.
Some of the achievements for the end of nutmeg year 30 June 2017 are:
- Incurring a surplus of $1,242,631
- The merger of the boards of the Grenada Cocoa Association and the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA)
- Establishing contacts for selling of nutmeg in Aruba, USA, and the UK
- GCNA climbing out of overdraft facility
- Experiencing over 100% increase in the number of containers shipped monthly
- Maintaining 96% occupancy of the GCNA complex
On Thursday, the Nutmeg and Cocoa boards met with farmers at the GCNA building to provide updates on the industry and to receive feedback.
Minister for Agriculture Yolande Bain Horsford told farmers that in 2018 more advancement can be expected in 2018 as the ministry strives to revamp the agriculture sector. Among programmes and initiatives to receive focus in 2018, the minister spoke of the need to ensure quality assurance when exporting. “Placing greater emphasis in the area of food safety as there is a move by EU and United States of America to put more stringent requirements on exports; it is, therefore, crucial that the GCNA processing facilities be configured to enhance food safety in nutmeg.”
The minister said the ministry would be creating a special fund to act as a buffer when prices are low on the international market, explore more opportunities for product diversification and invest in climate-smart agriculture practices. But most importantly, the minister said that government is moving to address the issue of the lack of crop insurance for farmers.
“The lack of crop insurance places enormous pressure on the government to make payment relief following natural disasters… the ministry will collaborate with Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to implement a project to address this issue in 2018.”
Chairman of the GCNA Leo Cato, addressed the farmers saying that going forward in 2018, the GCNA cannot carry on business as usual.
“The GCNA will have to go through some dynamic adjustments; we have gone past the stage where nutmeg production was dominated by Indonesia and Grenada. You have many more players in world market. It means that we have to diversify our business portfolio, work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to seek more state support so that we can reposition ourselves.”
Nutmeg farmers expressed their grievances over the present state of the agriculture sector, including
- Apparent lack of sufficient investment in agriculture sector
- Aging farming population
- Reintroduction of Farm Labour Support programme
- Revitalisation of livestock farming
For the first time in 3 years, 3,700 farmers are to benefit from a $1 Million bonus, the cheques to whom the GCNA is in the process of printing, for distribution by Monday, 18 December.