Untuk lebih Detil Klik >> Penawaran Produk dan Jasa

Indonesia's 500-Year-Old Nutmeg Trade On The Wane

banda-naira.blogspot.com by : Saiful Karmen

Indonesia's 500-Year-Old Nutmeg Trade On The Wane

JAKARTA (dpa) - Indonesia's nutmeg trade is on the decline after five centuries of being the root cause of wars, massacres and ultimately the colonialization of this sprawling archipelago nation.
From production in the mid-1990s of more than 10,000 tons of nutmeg per annum, Indonesia's nutmeg output fell to less than 6,000 tons last year, and the trend is downwards for the near future.

"Indonesia, the way it's going now, is gradually getting out of the nutmeg business," said Kees Valk, marketing director for P.T. Unipro Indonesia, one of the world's leading nutmeg traders.

Unipro blames Indonesia's declining role in the world nutmeg market on recent years of poor weather, political unrest, growing competition and the local industry's failure to put in place better quality controls and to plant new trees.

Ironically, it is Britain's former colonies - Grenada, India and Sri Lanka - that are squeezing the former Spice Islands, prize of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC), out of the spice trade it once monopolized.

In 1511 the Portugese discovered the Banda islands, six tiny volcanic lumps in the Maluku archipelago (formerly Maluccas), situated about 2,475 kilometres east of Jakarta, which were to have a disproportionate impact on Indonesian history, not to mention New York's.

The Bandas were the original source of nutmeg, the large seed of the nutmeg tree which is only indigenous to the six remote islands.

Four centuries ago nutmeg was worth its weight in gold in Europe, where physicians touted it as a panacea capable of curing plague, impotency, depression, not to mention as a great preservative for rotting meat during an age of no refrigeration.

By 1664 the Dutch had driven the Portugese and British out of the Bandas, but at a steep price.

In that year, the Dutch government handed over the island of Manhattan - then a small trading post in the New World of America - to the British in exchange for their claim on Run Island, part of the Banda chain.

Annoyed by local opposition, the VOC massacred and rounded up the remaining population of Bandanese and shipped them to Batavia (Jakarta) to be sold as slaves, leaving the islands to be devoted solely to nutmeg growing by Dutch plantation owners.

A Dutch monopoly over the nutmeg trade lasted until the 1811 to 1816 period, when Java temporarily fell under the British, who used the occasion to transplant nutmeg trees in their colonies in Penang, Sri Lanka, India and Grenada, a volcanic island in the Caribbean.

For the past century Indonesia and Grenada have been the world's top suppliers of nutmeg, now no longer deemed a panacea but still an important spice and preservative in such mundane products as German sausage.

World demand in 2002 for nutmeg and mace, the red, lacelike covering of the nutmeg shell, is estimated at about 9,000 tons, with Europe accounting for 42 per cent, the U.S.A. for 26 per cent and others for the remainder.

Indonesia's exports of nutmeg/mace this year are estimated to reach 5,500 tons, compared with Grenada's 2,000 tons and 1,200 tons from Sri Lanka/India, according to Unipro.

While Indonesia continues to be the largest nutmeg producer, traders claim it is losing market share in Europe, due to stricter health regulations on alfa-toxins and no serious quality controls in Indonesia.

"Grenada has fantastically organized its whole business," said Unipro's Valk. "They actually test for alfa-toxins in Grenada, and they have agents in the U.S. and Europe who replace parcels that have been rejected."

Indonesia has no such system in place.

"So what we see now is many European buyers shifting to Grenada," said Valk. "The only advantage for Indonesia is that Grenada's production is far too small."

Meanwhile, on the price-conscious, less quality-conscious end of the nutmeg market, such as sausage makers in Eastern Europe and China, Indonesia is losing out to nutmegs from Sri Lanka and India, which are smaller but cheaper.

Indonesia's inherent advantage in the nutmeg business is that the spice originated in the Banda islands, and has been transplanted with good results to numerous other islands such as Ambon and Siau.

Ambon's nutmeg trade, unfortunately, has been interrupted by three years of religious strife on the island, and Siau - a small volcanic island that currently produces 60 per cent of the country's nutmeg crop - is threatened by the islanders' failure to plant new trees.

Ironically, the Banda islands have ceased to be a major source of nutmeg for the past twenty years, due to neglect of the plantations there.

Des Alwi, the so-called "Nutmeg King" of the Bandas, is trying to re-establish the island of Banda Naira as a nutmeg producer, with a plantation he started in 1997 of some 50,000 new nutmeg trees.

"We consider the nutmeg the heritage of Banda," said Des Alwi, who also chairs Banda's Culture and Heritage Foundation. "You can't neglect the nutmeg, because a lot of people died for it."

Posted by Saiful Karmen
Source : Digital Journal (http://www.digitaljournal.com)

0 komentar:

Post a Comment

Tanggapannya Gan..?