GCNA’s failure to industrialise the Nutmeg Sector

After 40 years of independence it pains me to know there are some people working on behalf of the Grenada nutmeg farmers, charged with serious responsibilities, yet they do not have a systematic planning and accountability mechanism: some individuals shirk their responsibilities, others are not held accountable, and there are people operating without a plan – without a plan to develop the nutmeg industry.

Let me say we all have plans, some good, some terrible. However, a business plan in the head is no good until it is written. This is exemplified by the many failed plans we may have had because we failed to plan. As the proverb says, “failure to plan is a plan for failure”.

A good plan is one that is written, has smart objectives, goals, and timelines for its achievement. Anything short of these basic components may be a plan for failure.

In 2010 there were several international organisations converging in Grenada to draw up a strategy for the “Grenada Nutmeg Sector”. Imagine in this 21st century we wait for foreigners to tell us what is good for us? These organisations included the ACP Agricultural Commodities Programme, European Commission, The International Trade Centre (ITC), UNCTAD, the World Bank and FAO.

At that conference the then Chairman of the GCNA gave a vision for the Grenada NUTMEG and MACE Sector that read: “A world leading Industry by 2015 recognized for its top quality Nutmeg, Mace and value added products contributing to the sustainable livelihood of the People of Grenada.”

With that vision an official strategy programmed for nutmeg and mace was said to have been developed.

While there were a couple of terms in that document that puzzled me, I ultimately determined that they were ‘designed to bamboozle’ the reader. The terms are ‘market-led participatory stakeholder approach,’ and ‘value-chain approach’.

While I do not claim to understand what these two terms mean, I did observe that the strategy was focused on “revitalising the Nutmeg Sector… and that “the document was intended to be the blue print for the development and improved competitiveness of the Nutmeg and Mace Sector in Grenada”. Notice nothing was said about value added or manufactured products.

So, if in 1947, the Nutmeg Ordinance stipulated that the GCNA was mandated to pursue export and manufacturing of nutmegs, in 2010 (63 years after formation of the GCNA; and 36 years of so-called independence), international agencies come to guide us on how to continue selling our nutmegs in jute or crocus bags.

This salient point is further confirmed by the Expected Outcomes of that strategic plan which is “a revitalised, buoyant Nutmeg Industry to deliver among others;

*improved benefits to our nutmeg farmers;

* Improved farming practices including methods of harvesting the fruit (food) and preparing it for marketing;

* Improved marketing arrangements and improved value added products for niche markets; and

* Improved value added applications and the application of Science and Technology and Information Technology to the overall operation and production of the G.C.N.A. and its ‘Value Chain’.
And even though the expected outcomes mentions ‘value added products’, three and a half years into the” implementation” of the strategy there is not a documented plan for manufactured products. This failure is further amplified by the executive summary which again says nothing about value added or manufactured products.

Executive Summary:

The Nutmeg Industry was once the main source of livelihood for the rural population and brought significant economic benefit to the country.

Over the last two decades, however, Grenada’s economy shifted from being “agriculture” dominant and moved into one that is more “services” dominant, with tourism as the leading currency-earning Sector.

There was little motivation to remain in nutmeg production after the hurricanes and a number of nutmeg farms were neglected.

The Nutmeg Sector Strategy has been developed to address the revitalization of this important Sector. The methodology for developing the Strategy has been participatory, using the Value Chain Approach with inputs from over 70 sector stakeholders drawn from the private and public sectors.

This partnership is a part of the E.U. funded All ACP Agriculture Commodities Programme (AAACP) with the leadership from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Traditionally, nutmeg and mace have been … used primarily in … the culinary field… There is now strong evidence to support its usage in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

Grenada lags behind in market research and development (and scientific R&D in general) and its potential is limited because of the lack of an appropriate Market Information System (M.I.S.) to facilitate the gathering, processing and storage of domestic and international trade data so vital for informed decision-making.

This Strategy is designed to provide opportunities and potential for the Sector. It is anticipated that its implementation would generally enhance Grenada’s economic development and would specifically contribute in a meaningful way to the rejuvenation of the rural economy.

In addition, the Strategy Response and Objectives outlined in that document again fail to raise the need for value added products: “This Strategy document addresses the critical factors related to the revitalisation of the Grenada Nutmeg Sector and focuses on how the country needs to position itself to become a world leading Industry by 2015”.

The Strategy claims to be comprehensive and identifies target markets and associated Value Chain issues that impede efficiency and growth of the Sector.

The visitors identified six (6) major objectives for Grenada as follows:

(1). Reinforce access to Market Information to enable better decision-making for the Sector;

(2). Reinforce capacity in G.C.N.A. to better compete and develop the Nutmeg Industry in Grenada;

(3). Increase quality and quantity of nutmeg and mace collected and supplied to G.C.N.A.;

(4). Improve access to finance for all stakeholders to facilitate sector operations and manage risk;

(5). Improve cross Ministry co-ordination and public/private partnerships for better policy-making;

(6). Ensure the long term sustainability of the Nutmeg Industry in Grenada.

Further, the Expected Outcomes also fail to mention anything about manufactured or value added products. The All ACP document continues to say that “When the Nutmeg Sector Development Strategy is implemented rehabilitation and replanting efforts would lead to an increase in the availability of nutmeg and mace. Accordingly, not only would farmers’ earnings increase, but also there would be an increased contribution from this Sector to overall G.D.P. ….However, the greatest impact will be reflected in Grenada’s increased capability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) particularly in relation to economic benefits as it relates to development in rural communities”.

So, there we have it, GCNA’s failure to plan for manufacturing or developing our nutmeg industry over the last 66 years; GCNA’s failure to serve our nutmeg farmers and national best interest. There must be a better way to serve our nutmeg farmers and country. There just must be a better way!
Dr. Francis R. Antoine

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