Revamping the GCNA a must

Dr Stephen Fletcher

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • Dr Stephen Fletcher has started a development discourse series on the Grenada nutmeg industry
  • Final session in this first series will take place in Grenville, St Andrew on 17 May

Chief strategist at Campeche International Consultants Inc and a former EU ambassador Dr Stephen Fletcher, is of the fervent view that the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) will remain at the mercy of fluctuating international market prices for nutmeg, due to its dependency upon the traditional method of primary commodity export.

Dr Fletcher reiterated that no longer can the GCNA operate within a boom and bust environment where prices for nutmeg are set externally.

The GCNA was founded on 27 March 1947 by farmers to safeguard and promote the interest of the nutmeg industry by ensuring that farmers can source markets for their products. The GCNA has over 3 thousand active members, but after the destruction by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, which wiped out 60% of Grenada’s nutmeg stock, the island was removed from the rankings by countries such as India and Indonesia which now dominate the market.

Author of ‘Poor Commonwealth No Longer?’ and the ‘Analysis of a Failed Primary Commodity Cartel GCNA and ASPIN,’ Dr Fletcher started a development discourse series to dissect and analytically discuss the current state and future perspectives of the Grenada nutmeg industry and the issues confronting the GCNA. The first discourse was held on 5 April 2018 in St George. The second discourse held on Thursday, 10 May in Gouyave attracted key players in the agriculture sector including nutmeg farmers.

During his 2nd presentation, Dr Fletcher discussed the topic ‘Status of the Nutmeg Industry: Learning from the past, Reflections on the current situation and Future Perspectives.’ Farmer posed their questions and suggestions on the way forward to improve Grenada’s Agriculture sector.

Speaking with NOW Grenada, Dr Fletcher called for an end to the archaic method of exports of nutmeg. ‘In 1985 there was an attempt to address this boom and bust situation by the Nutmeg Association, by forming a cartel with Indonesia, but that didn’t work and eventually collapsed; but what continues to happen today is that we continue to operate in the same old-fashioned way in which we rely on external people to make decisions for us because we are not in the marketplace.”

Participants at the 2nd Development Discourse Series at the St John’s Community Library, Gouyave

Dr Fletcher said the issue of land ownership is another major concern for the sector. “High-value agriculture lands are being used for non-agricultural purposes, so we see a lot of lands that were previous estates being turned into residential communities, and there is an additional phenomenon now where we see that lands are being owned now by people who are not necessarily using it for agricultural purposes but for investment.”

As part of his suggestion, the Campeche International Consultants Inc chief strategist believes the way forward for the industry is through the export of value-added products. “We need to get into high-value products, and unless we get into that, where we are able to earn more for our products, we are going to be in trouble.”

Nutmeg farmers and people interested to advance of Grenada’s agriculture sector are of the view that this lecture is long overdue.

Gordon Paterson is among those individuals. “We have been operating under an old paradigm in Grenada and I think there are different market forces both internationally and locally that we need to address so I believe there is an urgent need for identification of our stakeholders including the private sector and do an analysis of their roles and responsibility within the nutmeg industry and that can steer us in the right direction.”

Benny Langaigne looks forward to the information stemming from these consultations to be documented and presented to relevant stakeholders. “If in fact as promised some of the outputs will be the compilation of a document that can be presented to stakeholders and policy makers which will go a very long way in giving some teeth to what is being done.”

The third and final session in this first series will take place in Grenville, St Andrew on 17 May.

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