Harvesting nutmeg in Grenada

Anyone interested in getting some insight into nutmeg processing in Grenada would most likely set off on a tour of one of the processing stations on the island.
From our own experience this by no means represents the work that nutmeg farmers have to put into their crop beforehand.
We are currently harvesting nutmegs once most times twice a week and would like to depict the journey of our nutmegs, from tree to station and bring you closer to the life of a nutmeg farmer and what he has to do to earn a bare EC$3 per lb.

Rod it

Weight is money so once the nutmegs start opening we rod them off of the tree using bamboo rods. The designated climber climbs the tree and rods down the higher nutmegs. Another person circles the tree and rods down the lower ones.
Alternatively you can wait until the nutmegs fall to the ground but this is not really recommended since the mace is prone to rot and mildew. But if you're not interested in selling the mace (we wouldn't blame you) by all means chill until the nutmegs fall on their own.

Pick it up

And now the game of "ring a ring a roses"!
Circle the tree again and again and pick up the fallen nutmegs. We usually separate our nutmegs there and then into two buckets; one bucket for the freshly picked nutmegs and the other for the black nutmegs or those with partly rotten and mildewed mace. This makes grading the mace much easier.

Bring it home

Demace it

Now the real work begins! The mace has to be separated from the nutmeg ideally on the same day and spread out in order to prevent moulding.

Dry it

You don't need to dry the nutmeg before selling, but the mace needs to start drying immediately since it is very prone to mould. We spread both out on our handmade drying racks.

Grade it

The Grenada Nutmeg Association has defined three quality levels of mace, grade 1 to 3. The better the grade, the higher the purchase price. The farmer has to do the grading himself and has to hope that the association accepts his grading system. Worst case scenario is that they will send you back home with the mace entirely or offer you the purchasing price of the worst grade in your batch.

The current prices for dried mace are as follows:
Grade 1 = 5 XCD / pound
Grade 2 = 3 XCD / pound
Grade 3 = 1 XCD / pound

The whole process of demacing, drying and grading is extremely time consuming and to be honest, considering the price, not really worth it. We know several farmers who use their mace as mulch!
Hint to the Grenada Nutmeg Association. According to this market report, the price of dried grade 1 mace on the world market was approx. 20 XCD in 2016.

Sell it

After hours and hours of  work in the land and at home now comes the supposedly enjoyable part.
Because it is prohibited by law to buy or sell your nutmegs to anyone other than the  Grenada Nutmeg Association, we nutmeg farmers have to accept their current purchasing price of 3 XCD per pound as an advanced payment. Advanced payment meaning that at the end of each year, after all sales of nutmegs and their products would have been conducted on the world market, farmers would get a piece of the profit pie in the form of back pay. It has been 3 years and counting and farmers are yet to see their back pay.

It should be noted that only registered farmers with a nutmeg book can sell their produce. This ensures that stolen crop are not sold.


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