While diagnosing quality infrastructure issues which exist in the value chains for nutmeg and its distribution, stakeholders in the nutmeg sector in Grenada recently got some needed feedback on what is being done correctly and tips on what needs to be done to create better products for export.
The CALIDENA diagnostic workshop, held in Grenada from September 24 to 26, tackled a number of areas critical to the nutmeg value chain. The term “value chain” is based on the concept that the value of a product is created at various stages in production, and looks at all these steps from creation to market, to human resources, research and development, as well as the relationships behind the companies involved in developing the product. CALIDENA is a component of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ)-implemented, and the National Metrology Institute of Germany, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt –PTB funded, Establishment of a Demand-Oriented and Regionally Harmonized Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean Project, more commonly known as the RQI4.
Grenada’s CALIDENA consultant, Dr. Guido Marcelle, as part of the workshop, facilitated a Skype call with Shashi Foods, a Canadian buyer of cracked nutmeg, who noted that the low aflatoxin was one of the reasons that country’s product is preferred. Aflaxotin refers to any of a variety of certain toxins found in some plants and products naturally. The buyers also expressed satisfaction with the product, but noted that shipping was too slow.
“Proper weight, not too much granules, and cleanliness” were identified as requirements for Grenadian exporters, and it was noted that samples of the products were currently tested in an accredited laboratory in New York before shipment and on arrival.
The buyers, Mr. A. J. Shah and his brother, indicated they found the price of nutmeg in Grenada favourable and were comfortably able to resell, even though they found the quantities too small. The nutmeg mainly went to bakeries and for use in seasonings, the buyer said, but also commented on what he said was the declining oil content in the product over the past year, which might be a result of smaller pieces of nutmeg being shipped.
Mr. Shah said they had visited and conducted audits of places where they could source nutmeg in Grenada, following which participants requested a quota from the buyer of how much product they could reasonably take so the farmers could prepare in the short and long term. The buyer said they were contracted to receive six containers from the GCNA, but were prepared to take more if available.
Mr. Simeon Collins, outgoing Director of the Grenada Bureau of Standard, in his presentation on “QI in a Small Island State”, suggested that even though small islands were disadvantaged because of their size in comparison to their competitors, buyers still expect the same quality. One of the major difficulties he listed is that because the states are small they do not have the necessary funds to facilitate all aspects of the QI. He stated that the function of standardization, conformity assessment and metrology were usually done by the same institution.
On day two, the participants in the workshop took to the fields for a visit to a nutmeg farm in Mt. Granby, and a nutmeg processing plant in Gouyave.
The following and final day of the CALIDENA workshop, participants were split into four groups to examine the relative standards in Grenada and CARICOM, in North America, Europe and finally the requirements for organic exportation of nutmeg or mace.
With every CALIDENA workshop, one of the objectives is to come up with an action plan, and the final day saw the creation of a plan for Grenada surrounding the documentation for the workshop, information for decision-makers, and an overall follow-up of a number of areas identified for improvement. Among areas selected were: the development of guidelines, eg. Good Agricultural Practices; adaptation of regional standard for organically produced products; the revision by Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association of the handbook dealing with processing of nutmeg; standards-based training for farmers in the processing of fruit; and, training for laboratory technicians in the area of medicinal and cosmetics.