The archipelago of Zanzibar in Tanzania, sometimes known as the Spice Islands, was once
the world's largest producer of cloves. It is still an important industry for farmers on
the island of Pemba as the BBC's Ruth Nesoba found out during the harvesting of
the flower buds which when dried are used as a spice in cooking, to flavour drinks
like mulled wine and in medicine.
The months of September, October and November are the crucial time of year for clove
farmers on Pemba. It is the period of the short seasonal rains when the cloves are
harvested by hand. Bunches on lower branches can be pulled off or shaken free.
Harvesting is strenuous work. The bunches of cloves can be tucked away in dense
foliage where they are difficult to get at.
Clove trees can grow up to 15m (49ft) high. Farmers are often skilled climbers, scaling
the trees to pull bunches off higher branches. Many people on the island depend on
cloves for their livelihood. That has been the case since the trees were introduced from
Indonesia around the turn of the 19th Century.
Here at Konde village, as in much of Pemba, every family member is expected to help.
Men, women and even young children get up early to help pick the cloves. Scaling the
trees is generally left to the men, while women and children gather the cloves that fall to