Pemba island shifts spice farming from subsistence to global markets


Tanzania’s Pemba island has some of the world’s most fertile soils. The island – whose name comes from the Arabic, meaning “the Green Island” – produces fruit, cloves, cassava, coconuts, and a range of delicious spices. But the rich soils do not convert easily into income.

The Intra-ACP GCCA+ programme helped communities on the Indian Ocean island to shift their production from subsistence to surplus. It also helped them to sell this surplus on local markets and beyond.

A first step was to train communities across the island, especially women, to run small businesses. The course included the entrepreneurial mindset, the basics of selling and marketing, business planning, and personal finance management. It also taught the communities how to organise themselves as businesses and business associations.

The project also helped the island, part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, to develop a climate-smart marketing strategy. Under this strategy, the farmers produce higher volumes of quality spices, using climate resilient and ecosystem-friendly methods, then market and sell these spices on a range of different markets.

Some global brands, which sell natural products, have already signed agreements. They’re attracted not just by the products themselves, but by the the archipelago’s compelling tradition of spice farming and, in particular, Pemba Island’s unique initiative to rebuild their island’s resilience in the face of a changing climate.