Grenada may soon establish a regional Spice and Herb Development Research Centre, according to Minister for Education, Anthony Boatswain.
Speaking at the post-Cabinet press briefing held last week Tuesday, Minister Boatswain said that Grenada has a wide range of natural herbs and spices but is lacking in research capabilities and government is now moving to address this problem.
“That is to say, Grenada will be the Centre for research and development in spice and herbs,” he told reporters.
The senior government minister said that this initiative is extremely important to Grenada since the island has an abundance of natural spices and herbs but unfortunately does not have the research capabilities to commercialise or add value to these products.
He stated that the products remain under-utilised or exported in a raw state without any value being added to them.
“This project will transform the scenario and make Grenada a focal point or the lead country in our region for research and development of herb and spice”, he added.
Minister Boatswain stressed that Grenada has had similar initiatives in the past especially with the nutmeg product and expects this trend to continue but the time has come to look at a wider range of spices and herbs for research and development purposes.
He said that developing the country’s natural products has the capacity to transform the local economy through the development of a very defined agro-processing sector.
The minister disclosed that Cabinet has appointed a high-level technical committee to spearhead this initiative with Ronald O’Neale, an Agronomist by profession, to serve as Chairman.
The committee will also be comprised of persons drawn from the Ministry of Agriculture, Spice Project Unit, a representative each from the Grenada Produce Chemist Laboratory, St George’s University (SGU), the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, Natural Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago, the Natural Products Institute and the UN International Trade Centre.
Minister Boatswain disclosed that once established, the Centre would serve a wide variety of purposes, as private companies in the region which need to do research into new ideas and develop new products as well as the testing of products can access this facility to realise their dreams.
He said the new entity can also be used by government organisations that has statutory functions to perform such as criminal lab investigations, the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), and by foreign private concerns that wish to buy publications, engage in online courses about Caribbean spices and natural products, and overseas private companies wishing to commission work on consultancy services among others.
The senior government minister stressed that the benefits to be derived from establishing this Centre in Grenada could be tremendous.
The estimated cost of the start-up of the research centre is US$1.55 million.
According to Minister Boatswain, the feasibility study for the Research Centre has been completed and it can take three years to ensure its establishment.
The estimated Capital Cost for the project is $750,000.00 to install equipment.
A preliminary survey done showed that it will cost $32,000.00 per month to run the centre and that in the first year, it can generate sales of around $248,500.00 during the initial phase of its operation.
The minister said that government is looking at donor agencies such as the International Trade Centre and Compete Caribbean for financing of the project.
The Spice Laboratory at Tanteen has been identified as a possible location for the project but government is looking at other areas in the country.