By: Dr.E.R Buckmire
The following is a brief tribute to the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA).
It is my hope that this article may motivate others to greater heights for the GCNA. Such as commercializing and value addition of Grenada Nutmeg .
The Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) is now the virtual flagship of agriculture in Grenada and together with the Grenada Cocoa Association(GCA), they cater for more than 30,000 persons in Grenada and most of the rural community.
In this article I will state how the GCNA was formed and recognize some of the persons who conceived this co-operative called GCNA and mention some of the persons who caused the GCNA to be formed and later grow to this economic giant owning over twenty(20) properties with an estimated valued of over sixty-six million dollars($66 million).
Despite two devastating climate hurricanes in 1955 and in 2004 and 2005 which virtually reduced GCNA to less than(20%) twenty percent of GCNA’s capacity to supply the world market with “Grenada Nutmeg.”
The idea of forming a Nutmeg Co-operative came from Mr. Norman Gay owner of Brothers Estate in St. John’s parish. The Estate was wound up some years ago and today it is the site of the St. John’s Christian Secondary School. Mr. Gay convinced some of his colleagues in 1941 of the critical need for a Marketing Co-operative which among other things would eliminate the competition between Exporters such as Hankeys etc, Stabilize prices paid to the producers, and enhance the export quality of “Grenada Nutmeg” and Mace.
This proposal went through an official route which took it first to the office of the then Governor Sir Arthur Gamble, then next culminating in the Nutmeg Industry Ordinance No 8 of 1946. The Birthday of the GCNA, however, is the 27th March 1947, and it started business on the 1st October 1947.
By virtue of the ordinance No.8 of 1946, it became the sole Exporter of Grenada Nutmegs and although Exporters were eligible for membership in the GCNA, the advance price they received for Grenada Nutmeg purchased from producers was less than that paid to those making direct sales to the GCNA. This was challenged in the Legislative Council by the members who were thought to be friends of the exporters.
They include: Messrs: Geo.F Huggins and Company (Grenada) Ltd W. E Julien Thompson Hankey and Company V.E Charles and Company Mc. Cartney and Williams L.L Ramdanny Norbert Nyack P.G Hosten A. Hubbard and Company LTD The St.John’s Produce Company. The Douglaston Estate Some of which later became members of the GCNA. The sequel to this was the formation of an Exporters Opposition Group calling itself.”
The Grenada Nutmeg Producer Protective League, who continued the antagonism against the GCNA, by seeking Legal opinion to challenge its Export Monopoly, between 1951 and 1975. Three commissions of Enquiry were appointed by Government as follows: 1. The Jackson Commission of Enquiry (April 1951) 2. The Ward Commission of Enquiry (September1971) 3. The Dennison Commission of Enquiry (October 1975) Commission (A) and (B) apart from generally investigating various aspects of the Management of GCNA and making recommendations for improving GCNA’s operation, it is noted that one of the recommendations made by the commission (A) to Government was;” The continuation of the Monopoly position of the GCNA in receiving and processing Nutmegs.
This settled the major issue between the Exporters and the GCNA. Commission (C) dealt mainly with the legality of an Act of Parliament to dissolve the elected Nutmeg Board and create an Interim Board as well as the Financial Management system of the Association. Since then some of the persons who Administered and Managed GCNA include Mr. T. E Noble Smith and later Mr. Robin Renwick, and 50 or so Chairman of the Board of Directors such as Mr. Norris James and Mr. Clarence Ferguson and others, who led to the Procurement of the 20 or so properties for Curing and Drying Grenada Nutmegs.
They therefore helped to maintain the status Quo and Establish Grenada Nutmegs on the world market. Of particular mention is Mr. Hackamoff JHB LTD in Europe our Marketing Agent and others in North America and Canada. However in recent times the Board has begun to deplete some of these properties. Other persons worthy of mention who helped Nutmeg Production and Growth include: Mr. Arnold Cruickshank, Dr. Guido Marcelle, and Mr. Ronald O’Neale, Mr. Leonard St. Bernard.
The foregoing gives tributes to those who found GCNA and helped to make GCNA what it is today. As you see it was a turbulent past. But the GCNA continues and if managed properly, there is a bright future ahead. But we must change to have GCNA to operate as a business and to Market and Sell “Grenada Nutmeg” as value added products not as Nutmegs in “Croccus Bags”. The future is in our hands.