The New Today

Local News

Merger and liberalisation of cocoa and nutmeg industry

Two tourists are captured picking nutmeg from a tree

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has told the farming community that the ruling New National Party (NNP) will pursue its plans to merge the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) and the Grenada Cocoa Association (GCA) and to liberalise the industry with a bill to be taken to Parliament.

Government is meeting stiff resistance to the plan from the two commodity bodies whose members are expressing concerns over the powers given to the Minister of Agriculture, Yolande Bain-Merger and liberalisation of cocoa and nutmeg industry Horsford to appoint the entire composition of the 7 or 9-member Board of Directors for the new entity.

The government minister is also empowered to grant export licence to anyone to sell produce on the international market.

In an address to the nation on Sunday night, Prime Minister Mitchell made passing remarks about the issue which has been generating a lot of interest in the country.

He said: “At the Government level, we continue to underscore the importance of the agriculture sector in promoting greater food security and to provide support.

Significant financial resources have been made available for various initiatives including price support payments for cocoa and nutmeg farmers. These resources are not intended to support the administrative affairs of the Grenada Cocoa Association and the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association but rather, go directly into the pockets of farmers.

The pandemic has compounded the financial hardship faced by many, and in particular, the farming community. As in numerous instances before, the situation highlights the need for urgent action to address the long-term financial viability of the cocoa and nutmeg associations and their ability to safeguard the livelihood of farmers. Therein lies the rationale for the proposed merger which is a recommendation dating as far back as the 1990s.

Unfortunately, years of inaction have paralysed the associations, leading to chronic and acute financial challenges, similar to the current situation which necessitated yet another injection of capital by Government, to ensure the survival of the associations.

To those who question why now, the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated in no uncertain terms, that it cannot be business as usual. We must move speedily but with precision, to address the governance and management structure of the commodity boards, which successive consultancies have shown to be inadequate and archaic.

It is said that in every crisis there are opportunities; this pandemic has provided a crucial opportunity to modernise the operation of our commodity boards, to strengthen the institutional capacity and viability of the governance structure, liberalise the market and improve the global competitiveness of our traditional crops.

A successful merger will accomplish this and most importantly, will allow farmers to be at the forefront, another longstanding recommendation that Government will seek to implement.

We expect the merger of the associations and liberalisation of the sector to lead to better prices for cocoa and nutmeg farmers while also allowing them a chance of real ownership and shareholding in the commodity board.

As it is now, farmers do not own shares in the Grenada Cocoa Association or the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association. Government has no intention to take over the affairs of the associations but rather, we seek to empower the country’s cocoa and nutmeg farmers and to improve their financial returns”.

If you are satisfied with the information provided by The New Today to our many readers, followers and supporters around the world, then you can show your appreciation by making a financial contribution to the effort of our team of dedicated workers.

Giving back is a way of saying thank you for our efforts

Support The New Today