Ginger farming is one of the best kind of business in the world. Ginger is a root crop (a rhizome) native to the eastern region of South Asia. Although in Nigeria where we have our Head office, the highest rates of ginger production can be pinpointed in states like Niger, Nassarawa, Benue, and Kaduna collectively in the northern region of the country.
A mature ginger rhizome is fibrous and has a striated texture with a brown outer skin and varying colors on the inside usually white, yellow, or red depending on the species of the crop.
Ginger farming is a very lucrative agricultural venture, usually grown for its medicinal values and culinary uses, it can be eaten fresh, dried, powdered, as oils and juices too but now it’s potential as a cash crop is being exploited to the maximum and is now cultivated for its economic values.
It is basically sourced for its culinary characteristics and edibility; its aroma is appreciated by chefs and its spicy hot taste likewise which flavors dishes. Asides its culinary appreciation, ginger is used industrially in alcohol and cosmetics production.
Ginger, an indigenous plant, is an important spice crop of the world. It is valued in medicine as a carminative and stimulant of the gastro-intestinal tract.
Dry ginger is used for the manufacture of oil, oleoresin, essence, soft drink, non-alcoholic beverages and vitaminized effervescent soft drinks. India is the largest producer and exporter to more than 50 countries accounting for more than 70% of world production.
The botanical name of ginger is Zingiber officinale which belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. Ginger is a herbaceous perennial with underground rhizomes having serial leafy shoots of 0.5 to 0.75m height; leaves sheathy, alternately arranged, linear with 15 cm long and sessile flowers borne on a spike, condensed, oblong and cylindrical with numerous scar bracts; flowers numerous yellow in colour with dark purplish spots, bisexual, epigynous, stamens only one, ovary inferior, three carpelled; fruit an oblong capsule, seeds glabrous and fairly large.
Best Climate and Soil for Ginger farming
Ginger grows best in warm and humid climate. It is mainly cultivated in the tropics from sea level to an altitude of 1500m, both under rainfed and irrigated conditions.
For successful cultivation of the crop, a moderate rainfall at the sowing time till the rhizomes sprout, fairly heavy and well-distributed showers during the growing period, and dry weather with a temperature of 280 to 350C for about a month before harvesting are necessary.
Prevalence of high humidity throughout the crop period is desirable. Ginger thrives best in well-drained soils like sandy or clay loam, red loam or lateritic loam. A friable loam, rich in humus are ideal. However, being an exhaustive crop, soil should be rich in fertility.
Preparation of land starts with the receipt of early summer showers. The land is to be ploughed 4 to 5 times or dug thoroughly to bring the soil to fine tilth. Weeds, stubbles, roots etc. are removed. Beds of about one metre width, 15-cm height and of any convenient length are prepared at an interspace of 40-50 cm in between beds. In the case of irrigated crops, ridges are formed 40 cm apart.
The weather conditions for ginger to thrive should always be warm and humid, but the soil conditions have to be tested before burying the rhizomes in the soil.
The soil is noticed to have an effect on the spiciness of the crop and this is evident in the compared yields from the South East and the Northern parts of Nigeria. The ginger from the north is very yellow on the inside and relatively smaller than the ginger gotten from the South East which was white on the inside and less spicy.
In Nigeria, Southern Kaduna soil has proven to be the best soil for ginger farming, the quality of yield from this area is so noticeable that it has topped the reference list of foreign buyers when ginger is in the question also making ginger export one of the major revenues of the state.
The best time for planting ginger in West Coast of India is during the first fortnight of May with the receipt of pre monsoon showers, while in North Eastern states, it is during April. Under irrigated conditions, it can be planted well in advance during the middle of February or early March.
Ginger is always propagated by portions of the rhizomes, known as seed rhizomes. Carefully preserved seed rhizomes are cut into small pieces of 2.5 – 5.0 cm length weighing 20-25 g, each having one or two good buds.
The seed rate varies from 1500 to 1800 kg per ha from region to region. The seed rhizomes are treated with 0.3 % Dithane M 45 for 30 min, drained and planted at a spacing of 20-25 cm along the rows and 20-25 cm between the rows.
Rhizomes that are disease-free and have a history of high yield are advised to be cultivated. The rhizomes can be smeared with organic fertilizer before planting.
Rhizomes are cut into pieces for planting, each piece must be at least 2cm long and have a node. As stated, the ideal spacing between ginger is 25cm and if ridges are to be employed, they should be planted on top of the ridge and not on the sides of the ridges. A shallow depth of 8cm is ideal with the node facing upward.
Varieties and types of Ginger
Several cultivars of ginger are grown in the different ginger growing areas in India. They are generally named after the localities or places where they are grown. Some of the more prominent indigenous types are Maran (Assam), Kuruppampadi, Ernad and Wynad local (all from Kerala).
A high yielding introduction Rio-de-Janeiro has become very popular among the growers. Its yield potential is 25 to 35 tonnes per ha. The fiber content is 5.19 % and dry ginger recovery is 16-18 %. Recently, High Altitude Research Station, Pottangi (Orissa) has released three improved varieties.
Manures and fertilisers
Organic manure is encouraged; ginger has been studied to do well with treated dung. Artificial manures like NPK 15:15:15 should be applied twice 20 days after planting and 40 days after the first application, alongside urea.
At the time of planting, well decomposed cattle manure or compost at the rate of 25-30 tonnes per ha along with 2 tonnes of neem cake is to be applied along with 50 kg P2O5 and 25 kg K2O.
They may be applied either by broadcast over the beds prior to planting or applied in pits at the time of planting. Besides, 75kg of Nitrogen /ha is recommended which is to be applied in two equal split doses at 40 and 90 days after planting. The plants are to be earthed up, after each top dressing with the fertilizers and beds rectified.
Mulching and weeding
Mulching the beds with green leaves is an important operation for ginger. Besides a source of organic manure, mulching prevents washing of soil, conserves soil moisture, smothers weed growth and improves the physical properties of the soil.
The first mulching is done at the time of planting with 12.5 tonnes of green leaves and the second mulching is given after 40th day and 90th day with 5 tonnes of green leaves per hectare immediately after weeding and supplication of fertilizers. Daincha can be raised in the interspaces of beds immediately after planting ginger and they can be uprooted before second mulching and may be used for second mulching after earthing up.
Weed should be exterminated from the farm as they compete with seedlings for space and they also can breed pests which could ultimately lead to diseases.
Weeding can be done using chemicals but a mild one is advised as they can have a noticeable effect on the plants, the plants will turn yellow but will recover after a week of adequate rainfall.
Manual weeding is advised too as this will encourage mulching which controls weed and conserve the soil nutrients and moisture, it is very important that a ginger farm is mulched.
Planting and Land Preparation for Ginger farming
The land should be cleared and filled, a tractor will do the job perfectly on large farmland although it can be done manually too, this ensures optimal water and nutrient penetration.
Beds can be made if desired although ginger can be raised on level soil perfectly, the bed should be 15cm in height and 1m in width, a 50cm spacing should be in between beds and a pH of 5.5-6.5, acidic soil and a temperature between 30-35oc is required
Irrigation is very important to a ginger farm but the farm can do well during the rainy season without irrigation but should be irrigated during the dry season
Disease and Pest Control for Ginger farming
Shoot borer, a pest, is known to always attack the crop, ginger has recorded high susceptibility to the pest, but they can be controlled manually, the shoot can be cut open and the caterpillars can be handpicked and destroyed
Rhizome rot is a disease known to always affect ginger and this can be prevented easily from the early stages by sowing seeds in areas that are not waterlogged, using healthy seeds and removing and destroying affected crops.
Harvesting and of Ginger plants
Ginger plants are ready for harvest 6-9 months after planting, this range depends on the variety. Maturation and harvest periods are marked by noticeable changes in the plant’s appearance, the leaves turn yellow and stem become dry if this happens to your farm 9 months after planting, don’t panic, it’s not a disease, it’s bank time!
Most times, harvest can commence immediately after 7 months but can be left as the longer the plant lives the more ginger you get. Ginger is cultivated once a year but can be harvested more than once.
The rhizomes are thoroughly washed in water two or three times to remove the soil and dirt and sun dried for a day. For preparing the dry ginger, the crop is harvested between 245 to 260 days.
When the leaves turn yellow and start gradually drying up, the clumps are lifted carefully with a spade or digging fork and the adhering soil removed. The average yield per harvest varies from 15 to 25 tonnes.
For preparing dry ginger, the produce is kept soaked in water overnight. The rhizomes are then rubbed well to clean them. After cleaning, the rhizomes are removed from the water and the outer skin is removed with bamboo splinters having pointed ends.
The peeled rhizomes are washed and dried in sun uniformly for one week. The dry rhizomes are rubbed together in order to get rid of the last bit of the skin or dirt.
These are called unbleached ginger. To get good appearance, peeled rhizomes are soaked in 2% limewater for 6 hours and then dried and this is known as bleached ginger. The yield of dry ginger is 16-25 % of the fresh ginger depending on the variety, location etc.
The profitability of Ginger Farming in Nigeria.
100 bags of ginger planted will yield 500 bags. A bag of ginger costs N10,000, a hectare of land will cost N1,000,000 to cultivate and a harvest of 300-500 bags depending on the quality of farm management and practices adopted. This yields a profit of 3,000,000 to 5,000,000, quite profitable.