Banda dreams of nutmeg again ....

A book is always a snapshot. It gives, as it were, a picture of the situation at the moment the button of the camera is pressed. What happens next escapes the photographer's attention. And in this case of course also from the writer.

The last chapter of my book "Nutmeg; the story of a miraculous nut "about the current situation on the Banda Islands ended in a rather bad way. What was once the center of the world has been pushed back to the periphery.

I wrote: "What about Banda? The chugging mopeds indicate some prosperity, and a large part of the houses also look very nice. But it does not mean very much. The economic possibilities of the Banda Islands are quite limited. This is the case simply because any potential market for their products is hundreds, if not thousands of miles away. "

And a little further: "What about the beds? The nutmeg, the mace? The gold that Banda once lived on that made the world fight for dominion over the islands?

The flowerbeds are no longer called flowerbeds, but simply plantations. Furthermore, it is a sad story that can be summarized in six words: there is little left of it. Of the production, which amounted to two to three thousand tons in the 1930s, only slightly more than a fifth remain today. Hardly a nutmeg tree can be found on Neira anymore. The same applies to Run. A single tree is still there, just like on Ay, and here and there some nuts are still drying in the sun. But it doesn't amount to much. Only on Banda Besar is a real plantation. It is owned by the Van den Broecke family, an old name on the Banda Islands.

A tour of the remains of the plantations is a sad sight. There seems to be hardly any maintenance. Grass, shrubs and other trees grow everywhere. New plantings are missing. The method of harvesting the nuts is still the same as in the seventeenth century. Twice a year, in April and August, the fruits are picked, dried in bags and shipped. And that's it. The Bandanese nutmeg and mace has been largely driven from the world market by those from Celebes and Grenada. There are no plans to take production to a higher level. "

And lo and behold: a few years later, those plans do appear to exist and an implementation has even started. The organization Pacific SpiZes is now working on putting the Moluccas back on the map in terms of spices. The first pilot container with nutmeg and mace is now on its way to Rotterdam.

This seems to have set in motion major changes on the Banda Islands, also thanks to the efforts of Uncle Frans Palyama and the TitanE Foundation. "We have become wiser through trial and error and after hard work by everyone there is now a solid foundation," write the two initiators Rico Vogel and Peter Gruijs of Pacific SpiZes. "In the spice world, the term Siau Ambon nutmeg (S / A for short) is a household name, but if it is up to us, that will change quickly. Pacific SpiZes offers the nutmeg as Banda Ambon nutmeg (B / A for short).

All in all, this could just be the start of an economic rebirth of the Banda Islands. And the fact that the Netherlands is contributing to this seems nothing more than paying off a debt of honor.

By: Willem Oosterbeek 

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