Zanzibar, “The Spice Islands”, is famous for its rich soils and lush vegetation. Spices are a crucial element in the lives of the people of Zanzibar, and are used on a regular basis for cooking, medicine and cosmetics.
By far the most important spice in Zanzibar is clove. Clove was introduced to Zanzibar during the Arab rule and became a major export, particularly due to the island’s excellent harbours and trade routes. Ironically, clove is not indigenous to Tanzania but was brought to the fertile lands of Zanzibar from Indonesia by the Omani sultans. Clove plantations flourished thanks to Zanzibar’s ideal agricultural conditions. Today, clove exports form a significant part of Zanzibar’s economy and are strictly government controlled.
Our spice tour began at a humble establishment called “Big Body With Tatata Spice Farm”. The spice farms are scattered across the countryside and allow tourists to engage with the locals and experience rural life. A knowledgeable guide explained how each spice grows and its primary uses; as well as answered all of our questions. In many circumstances, not only the seed would be harvested, but also the bark, flower or fruit. The farms are tended with care and experience. There is almost no wastage, and all produce is completely organic – imparting a sense of appreciation and respect for the land’s natural resources.
While we were mesmerised by the wealth of information exuding from the farm’s guide, another farm employee was masterfully weaving together items from around the property. Our tour ended with a gift of the woven goods, a demonstration of a skilled climber harvesting coconuts, a refreshing drink of fresh coconut water and a taste of the exotic fruits grown on the plantation.