Nutmeg as an agricultural business – How good is it?

IMG_0519Nutmeg as an agricultural business

Nutmeg is a tree which grows to heights of around 60 feet with countless medical applications with almost every component of the fruit. The Nutmeg tree yield two kinds of spices, they are the dark colored nut and the red mace is seen to cover it. Nutmeg is originated from Indonesia as the ideal growing condition for the growth of the tree is warm, humid and places with abundant rainfall. Nutmeg is used for much medical application and it was even used as medicine in the olden days.

Nutmeg Medical Implications

Nutmeg and mace are used for the treatment of diarrhea, nausea, stomach problems and related pains. It also helps in the treatment of intestinal gas. The specific use of nutmeg is for the treatment of cancer, kidney related diseases and also insomnia. It has also reported effects on problems like increasing menstrual flow.

Other uses

The other uses of nutmeg include it as a role of spices in the process of cooking where it is used for flavoring of the dishes. In manufacturing industry the nutmeg oil is used for bringing fragrances in products like soaps and cosmetics. The oil is extracted using the process of distillation from worm-eaten nutmeg seeds.

nutmetgsNutmeg Production and its feasibility

Any business to be effective there should be the demand for that commodity. Nutmeg is mainly grown in the Indonesian regions where the conditions are ideal for the growth of the seed. Indonesia remains the largest producers of Nutmeg in the world by constituting almost 75% of the global production of nutmeg seeds. Another major player is the Grenada Island of the Caribbean and is known for their quality. Now this was until the hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and almost 90% of the trees were destroyed which ultimately led to a witnessing of an export reduction from 2297 tonnes in 2002 to a mere 200 tonnes which led to a great shortage for nutmegs in the continent.

Nutmeg Global scenario

The total world production of nutmeg is estimated to be falling between the volume of 10000 and 12000 tons per year alongside an annual demand which is estimated at 9000 tonnes. Specifically seeing mace is estimated to be produced in volumes of 1500 to 2000 tonnes the major producer being Indonesia and Grenada. India is also a producer of nutmegs but is also a principle importer of the seed along with Unites States, Japan and the massive European Community.

Nutmeg – Domestic Scenario

Indian output of nutmeg to a total comes to 8000 tonnes without the shell. Indian demand for mace comes to around 1500 tonnes and is mainly for the medical implications. This demand is answered short by the production which only makes 800 – 1200 tonnes and the shortage is imported mainly from Sri Lanka as Duty Free exports. In India, Kerala is the largest producer of Nutmeg with vast areas of Nutmeg plantations because of the favorable weather conditions. The shortage in the global supply has witnessed a great jump in the prices and quantity demanded globally.

Nutmeg Business Scope

Considering the domestic and Global scenarios it can be established that the scope is high for the production of nutmeg as currently the world faces a shortage of nutmegs and the prices has also gone high due to the shortage of the seed. The main player which used to contribute the major share of the global supplies has reduced drastically due to unforeseen factors which has given India a huge opportunity to emerge as the top supplier of nutmeg with its vast nutmeg plantations.

a3Nutmeg growing prospects

Growth conditions

The ideal growth of nutmegs is expected at altitudes of approximately 100-1000 meters above the sea level with temperatures ranging from 20-30 degree Celsius. The tree demands an ideal rainfall pattern of 1500-2500 mm in a well-distributed manner. The tree can thrive in clay, sandy loom or laterite soils which have to be drained to avoid any root rot. Nutmegs are usually grown as an option for inter cropping with cocoa, banana, cloves, coconuts, fruits, root crops and so on.

Nutmeg has a shallow root system which is extensive and has a single taproot and a spreading mat of lateral feeder roots. This can extend above the spread of the branches and is generally measured at 3.5- 5 meters from the base of the stem.

Challenges for the producers or Nutmeg plantations

  • Selection of seeds: Varieties of nutmeg seed are available in the market with varies modes of growth patterns, size and shape of the nuts and not to mention the quantity and quality of the nuts produced. So choosing the right seeds is a very important phase in the production of nutmeg or for nutmeg plantations.
  • Planting: The planting is as important as the selection of the seeds. The planting is generally done at the starting of the rainy season; the male grafts should be planted at equal intervals maintaining the 1:10 ratio.
  • Harvesting: the ripening of the fruit starts after 9 months of its plantation. The fruits open up when they are ripe and is handpicked everyday as it should not be let to fall on the ground. The male decays rapidly once it contacted with earth and might go to waste.
  • Processing: The seeds should be properly dried for maintaining the quality of the nutmeg seeds. Drying in the sun can affect the quality of nutmeg. It should be taken care to reduce the levels of aflatoxin in the products which is not preferred by the European countries. Processing is a very important step in ensuring the quality of nutmeg.

Summary

By considering the above stated points, it can be clearly understood that nutmeg production is business with immense scope as the demand globally with the high prices offered in the global market is one of the prime factors which makes this business profitable. The other factor which can be taken in support of the nutmeg business is the decline in the production from two of the major producers of nutmeg i.e., Indonesia and the Island of Grenada which gives India the chance to emerge as the largest producer of Nutmegs.

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