Grenada - Agriculture
Besides food crops grown for local and tourist consumption, Grenada's 3 traditional export crops are bananas, cocoa, and nutmeg. Historically, these have been grown not on large estates, but by small farmers with properties of a few acres. The regularity of income produced by bananas, typically delivered weekly by farmers to visiting banana boats, with the high prices fetched by nutmeg, contributed to modest rural prosperity from the 1950s onwards. But since the 1990s the banana sector, in particular, has been badly affected by problems revolving around access to foreign markets. The 1997 ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the European Union (EU) was unfairly discriminating against Latin American banana producers by giving preferential access to Caribbean producers created a crisis in the industry. This was worsened by complaints from the exporting company, Geest, that Grenadian bananas were unreliable in quantity and quality. The EU continues to offer preferential quotas to Caribbean producers, but Grenada's industry has declined further, despite a banana rehabilitation program initiated by the government and the Windward Islands Banana Development and Exporting Company (WIBDECO). After an 18-month suspension, banana exports resumed in November 1998.
Cocoa also suffered in the 1990s with an epidemic of mealy bug infestation, coinciding with the cancellation of a contract with a major chocolate manufacturer. Another victim of natural disasters was Grenada's fishing industry, affected first by a mysterious disease and then by Hurricane Lenny in November 1999. These factors created a sharp decline in the fishing sector, which with Japanese aid, had been expanding in the 1990s, employing an estimated 1,500 people in the coastal towns of Gouyave, Grenville, and St. George's.
Much more positive was expansion and rising prices in the nutmeg sector. Political turmoil in Indonesia, Grenada's main competitor, pushed up nutmeg prices by 72 percent in 1999 and mace (a byproduct of nutmeg) by 37.5 percent.
Some cotton is grown on Carriacou, and limes are cultivated in Grenada and Carriacou, mostly for the local market. Grenada's once important sugar industry is now confined to a small area in the south of the island, where there is a rum distillery. Fruit and vegetables are grown across the island, and what is not consumed locally is usually brought to market at St. George's.