Ginger cultivation becomes a new attraction in southern Nigeria

Agricultural researchers are traveling across southern Nigeria to boost ginger cultivation, reveal its enormous profitability and mobilize farmers across the Southeast and South-South to join the new craze.

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has also thrown its weight behind the production and export of ginger with the message that ginger can also grow in the south.

The NEPC also appears to be persuading the oil region to try the ginger economy as the oil economy shrinks; and the southeast and south-south seem to have gotten the message, learning from experts that southern ginger is better than the northern variant, and Nigerian ginger is the best in the world.

At a Ginger Seminar in Port Harcourt last week organized by the NEPC and led in the zone by Joe Itah (South-South Zone Coordinator), experts gave insight into the profitability of ginger. They educated farmers on the technical aspects of acquiring, planting, mulching, weed control, fertilizing, harvesting, sorting, washing, storing, processing and of export.

In an article, Joy Nwaekpe, Principal Research Officer/Acting Head of the Adopted Villages and Community Schools Unit, as well as the Value Chain Specialist of the National Root Crops Research Institute at Umudike in Abia State guided participants through the value chain.

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Regarding profitability, she cited Tridge’s research which puts the profit at almost 200% of the capital invested, indicating that those who invest 1 million naira will get almost 3 million naira. This seems to motivate farmers in the south.

National Ginger Association of Nigeria (NGAN) Rivers State Chairman Davis Busari said it takes 3.5 million naira to grow one hectare of ginger and could grow to 4.5 million naira if grown organically. He said this has prompted the more than 1,000 NGAN members in Rivers State to target 20,000 ha over the next five years, starting with 5,000 so far.

Nwaekpe, in her presentation, said that Umudike has developed and supplied two scientific varieties: Umugin 1 and Umugin 2. She said that Umugin 1, commonly known as “Taffin Giwa”, has a bright yellow rhizome and is bigger in terms of rhizome finger sizes which yields around 15 tons/ha) capacity and pungency.

She also talked about what she called Black Ginger or Umugin 2 which she said is locally called “Yatsun Biri”. She said the rhizome is dull gray in color which has higher spiciness but lower yield of around 11-12 tons per hectare.

She gave details of her good agronomic practices to get maximum yield and taste to get the most benefit.

One expert, Rubby Ross, CEO of CHC Agric Tech Africa, said the organic farming market has recently grown significantly in response to concerns about food quality and environmental issues.

An agricultural engineer also from Umudike, Udoka Anosike gave details on how to process ginger into different products and also for export. He said that ginger is the king of spices and spices are the new food in the international market.

Keith P. Plain