Grenada nutmeg farmers hope 2016 project will bear fruit

Farmers in Grenada are trying to convert male nutmeg trees into female bearing ones.

Grenadian nutmeg farmers stand to benefit financially if a project started in 2016 aimed at converting hundreds of male trees into female bearing one is a success.

“They have started declaring about March/April last year and regrettably we had an extremely high percentage of male plants or male declarations,” said Ambrose Phillip, whose farm had more than 400 nutmeg seedlings planted in 2016. He said 80 per cent of the trees have since been declared as males.

The grafting initiative is being undertaken by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA)

Success rate

The Trinidad-based CARDI is an autonomous organisation providing agricultural research and development service for the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member countries.

CARDI’s representative in Grenada, Reginald Andall, said that a similar grafting project was undertaken following the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 by another entity, and it had a success rate of approximately 30 per cent.

But he believes that with improved monitoring and evaluation of the trees on Phillip’s farm, the success rate will be better.

“When we investigate the cost of grafting a nutmeg tree, we realise that it’s much way cheaper than doing DNA sequencing,” said Reginald, who confirmed that the initial project provided for a number of grafters to be educated about the grafting process as a means to have crops return to bearing stage quickly.

“So hence when we got to know about Mr Phillip’s debacle about his high rate of nutmeg trees on his farm, we discuss it with the GCNA and decided that this will be a good intervention to start with a farm, to transfer the male plants into female bearing plants,” he said.