Agriculture officials looking at nutmeg and spices industry
January 22, 2013
Agriculture officials looking at nutmeg and spices industry

Acting Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer, Lesley Grant, says the establishment of a nutmeg and spices industry here is a “good financial and economic option”.{{more}}

Grant’s comments came following the announcement by Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, during last week’s Budget Debate that this country is hoping to establish an EC$100 million spice and condiments industry.

“Mr Speaker, I am very serious about this. We have to set targets, not for 2013 alone, not for 2015, but by 2020, 2025. If we continue at the pace that we would have worked to establish cocoa in St Vincent and the Grenadines and we add nutmeg to it and other spices, which I will detail, I am certain that baring any disasters, that St Vincent and the Grenadines will have a $100 million spice industry and a well-diversified agricultural sector with bananas and other crops,” Caesar told Parliament last week.

Speaking at the Ministry of Agriculture press conference yesterday, Grant said, not only is the initiative a good economic option, but it is also a very good environmentally sustainable alternative in farming.

He explained that the first step will be to establish an inventory of all the nutmegs spices available in the country.

This will be done in different districts, he said.

“Officers will from next week be going out to … identify and take an inventory of nutmeg and all the other spices…

“Then we are going to start our rehabilitation work by the following week. We are going to then have a solid programme where we are going to designate certain officers and allocate the necessary resources,” the acting deputy chief said.

“We think this is a very good option for the farming community, because, for this year, we are targeting as many leads in terms of establishing enterprises …

“Because it’s all about farmers and how we facilitate the question of exporting and developing the agricultural sector,” he added.

Meanwhile, Caesar, who also spoke at press conference yesterday, revealed that a Nutmeg Rehabilitation Unit has been established within the ministry.

“We want to ensure that we have the administrative apparatus well oiled so that when we start to roll out with the manner in which we can develop this industry that we have all hands on deck.

“We are also going to increase our production in other spices in our stations and we are going to make these plants available to our farmers,” he added.

It was further revealed that the ministry is in early stages of negotiating with some private sector investors to partner in the venture.

Caesar said he is aware that nutmegs take a long period before reaching harvest stage but there are significant long-term benefits to be derived.

“Before 2003, before Hurricane Ivan in Grenada, the nutmeg industry … exported $40 million Eastern Caribbean dollars worth of nutmegs. That is something that is doable in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I have been advised that it can take up to seven to eight years. So you definitely have to begin now,” the agriculture minister stated. (AA)