30 years

Organic cocoa and agrotourism

Set on 160 hectares of land, in Grenada’s verdant northeastern parish of St Patrick, the Belmont Estate is emblematic of the benefits that agrotourism can bring. Based on the principles of organic production and fair trade, the initiative, run by female managing director Shadel Nyack Compton, has weathered widespread scepticism and the devastating Hurricane Ivan of 2004 to become a dynamic enterprise, producing livelihoods for local families.

Nyack Compton, whose grandparents bought the property in 1944, turned it into an agrotourism business in 2002, after studying successful models in the Caribbean, South and Central America, Europe and the US.  

As well as making organic products such as goat’s cheese and cocoa – used to supply the nearby Grenada Chocolate Factory – the enterprise is a popular tourist attraction, offering a tree-to-bar tour that takes visitors on a journey from cocoa pod to chocolate bar. The Belmont Estate does all the primary processing of cocoa in preparation for chocolate making for the Grenada Chocolate Factory.  

In spite of losing most of its tourism facilities in the hurricane, as well as the cocoa fermentary, cocoa drying trays, greenhouses and nurseries, the company has recovered.  It has constructed new cocoa storage facilities, introduced innovative solar-drying mechanisms and is already producing 50 per cent more cocoa than it did prior to the disaster.  

Nyack Compton is director of the non-profit Grenada Organic Agriculture Movement (GOAM), and Belmont Estate’s cocoa farm has been certified organic since 2003. At the time, she says many farmers did not believe that organic production could produce commercial yields and profits. But events proved otherwise and Grenada’s organic movement – together with its burgeoning agrotourism sector – is rapidly gaining momentum.