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Country profile - Grenada

Grenada

Known as the Spice Island of the Caribbean, Grenada was second only to Indonesia in global nutmeg production before hurricane Ivan in 2004 crippled the industry by destroying 90 per cent of the crop. Damage to tree crops, food crops, livestock, fisheries and agricultural infrastructure amounted to almost US$45 million, and over 90 per cent of the island's forest areas were destroyed.

According to the government, devastation caused by natural disasters has been one of the main challenges facing the agricultural sector. Others include insufficient existence and enforcement of agricultural policies, obsolete farming systems, an ageing farming population and limited use of technology. However, with assistance from donors and international organisations, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has been promoting a number of initiatives in order to revitalise the sector, enhance employment and improve food security.

Overview

Despite accounting for only six per cent of Grenada's GDP, agriculture makes a significant contribution to the livelihoods of most rural people. Sweet potato, cassava, yam, maize, cabbage, banana, golden apple and mango are amongst the main staple foods, while nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, and ginger are the major spices grown on the island. The principal exports include cocoa, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, banana, mango and avocado.

Until recently, banana has been a major export (© FAO)
Until recently, banana has been a major export
© FAO

As a Windward Island, banana has, until recently, been a major export for Grenada. But the dismantling of preferential trade arrangements with the European Union in the 1990s, coupled with the damage caused by hurricane Ivan, has impacted production. Banana producers have also suffered significant losses due to the incidence of moko, black sigatoka and yellow banana leaf spot disease. Today, the fruit is grown primarily for the domestic market and is no longer exported to Europe.

Apiculture has been one of the fastest growing livestock subsectors, with bee keepers exporting their honey both regionally and internationally. Poultry, sheep, goats, pigs and cattle are the main livestock reared - the majority on a small scale. To promote the livestock sector, improved breeds of goat have been imported to develop the goat milk and meat industry. Livestock technicians have also been trained in artificial insemination of cattle, while the government is encouraging increased poultry production in order to reduce the high imports of poultry meat.

Government support

The fisheries sector recovered quickly after hurricane Ivan and by 2008 production had almost recovered to pre-Ivan levels - worth US$12 million. In addition to distributing fishing equipment and boats after the hurricane, the government constructed a cold storage facility to enable fishermen to increase their catches. A new communication network also made it possible for fishermen to fish up to 200 kilometres out to sea. But, as the sector expands, concern over the conservation and management of fisheries resources has increased. Therefore the government is monitoring fish stocks and fishers' activities, and promoting community-based management to ensure the sustainability of the industry.

Pests and diseases are a major concern in Grenada. To tackle the problem, the government is promoting the use of high quality planting material, and providing support to farmers to identify and destroy diseased plants. In 2008, it was estimated that 95 per cent of farmers were using tissue cultured plants - particularly banana and pineapple. Germplasm for cassava, sweet potato and maize have also been distributed to farmers.

Agriculture makes a significant contribution to the livelihoods of most rural people (©FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri)
Agriculture makes a significant contribution to the livelihoods of most rural people
©FAO/Giuseppe Bizzarri

In 2008, the government announced its intention to promote and support the increasing number of small rural agro-processors. With backing from the government, Winfresh - formerly the Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company - purchased a processing plant in 2009 to begin producing fruit juices for export, diversifying their business. Another major agro-processing business on the island is the Grenada Chocolate Company, producers of high quality organic dark chocolate. Other small entrepreneurial businesses produce jams, guava cheese, banana crisps, and pepper sauces.

Moving forward

Looking to the future, the government has identified research and development as one of their major priorities. In Grenada, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) is currently focused on fruit tree crop research and conservation, and production and distribution of hot pepper and vegetable planting material. The development of dwarfing technology for golden apple has been one of the Institute's major achievements and on-farm demonstration plots are being established to transfer the system to the island's farmers.

Food quality and safety has also been given a high priority by the MoA in order to expand export markets, particularly to the European Union, in addition to the development of a national germplasm bank and establishment of manufacturing facilities to encourage further agro-processing. "Our government has a very clear and unambiguous vision for the agriculture sector in Grenada," the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Denis Lett wrote in the 2008 agricultural review. "The vision is for an agriculture sector that is globally competitive, ensuring food security and sustainable livelihoods for the entire nation and maintenance of a quality natural environment."

Statistical information
  • Country: Grenada
  • Capital: Saint George's
  • Area: 344 sq km
  • Population: 90,739 (July 2009 est.)
  • Population growth rate: 0.5% (2009 est.)
  • Life expectancy: 66 years (2009 est.)
  • Ethnic groups: black 82%, mixed black and European 13%, European and East Indian 5%, and trace of Arawak
  • Languages: English (official), French patois
  • Inflation: 3.7% (2007 est.)
  • GDP purchasing power parity: US$1.15 billion (2009 est.)
  • GDP per capita: US$10,800 (2009 est.)
  • GDP composition by sector: agriculture: 5%; industry: 18%; services: 77% (2003 est.)
  • Land use: arable land: 5.88%; permanent crops: 29.41%; other: 64.71% (2005)
  • Major industries: food and beverages, light assembly operations, tourism, construction
  • Agricultural products: bananas, cocoa, nutmeg, mace, citrus, avocados, root crops, sugarcane, maize, vegetables
  • Natural resources: timber, tropical fruit, deepwater harbours
  • Export commodities: bananas, cocoa, nutmeg, fruit and vegetables, mace, fish
  • Export partners: Saint Lucia 16.4%, US 11.3%, UK 11.3%, Antigua and Barbuda 11.1%, Saint Kitts & Nevis 10%, Dominican Republic 10%, France 6.4% (2008)

Date published: July 2010

 

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