“Pala Banda” (nutmeg – Myristica fragrant) is one of the famous spice from Moluccas. There are many large scales plantations of this crops in this area. I was a very fortunate that while visiting Ambon, I have the chance to visit a bit of “Pala Banda” plantation sites.
In this visit, we have gotten the chance to see preparation of seeds for germination, physical seed treatment to speed up germination, indigenous knowledge about how to germinate seed so that it will germinate into female plants and how to differentiate female from male trees based on the leaf shapes, visit nutmeg seedling nurseries, nutmegs plantation, and more than hundreds year old tree infested and died by insect.
Prior to germination, nutmeg seeds were mechanically treated to break the hard shell and expose the cotyledon. Subsequently, the treated seeds were soaked in water overnight. After soaking, the nutmeg seeds were placed in the nurseries for germination. Once germinated, the seedlings were transferred into polybag containing potting soil.
There was an indigenous knowledge developed by the farmer on how to get female plant. According to farmers, the positioning of nutmeg seeds during germination will determine whether they will become male or female plants. Farmer usually placed the flat side of the nutmeg seed at the top to get female plant and the round site at the top to get male one. The indigenous knowledge also indicated that the female trees usually have more rounded leaf shape while male ones have slender leaf.
Some of the oldest nutmeg trees were infested with insect borer and they usually die because of that. This situation is endangering the nutmeg germplasm in the regions. Although BBP2TP Ambon has develop methods for controlling the insects, none of them have proven to be effective.
Here are a few snapshots (slides) of Prof. Sudarsono visits to nutmegs nurseries and plantations: