Ginger is a tropical monocotyledonous and an herbaceous perennial plant which produces annual stems. The plant produces erect, tall and dark green shoot (pseudo stems) which measures about 30-100cm above the ground with long, narrow, ribbed green leaves which are 5-25 cm long and 1-3cm wide. It produces clusters of white and pink flower buds which bloom into white or yellowish-green flower. Ginger plant is mainly grown for its roots (which are known as rhizomes) popularly called ginger. Ginger is the underground root of the ginger plant with a firm striated texture. It has a brownish skin which could be either thin or thick depending on when it is harvested. The ginger flesh is most times yellow in color and is some cases white or red. It is widely used as a spice or herbal medicine because of its aromatic, pungent and hot taste. Ginger can be used fresh in dishes or in its processed forms such as dry ginger rhizomes, powder ginger, pickled ginger, ginger crystals and ginger paste. Ginger is also an important export crop valued for its powder, oil and oleoresin.
Nigeria is currently one of the main producers of ginger in the world and the major producers in Africa. With its annual world production surpassing 1.5 million tons and because of the several forms in which it’s traded, Ginger is now one of the most important trade commodities in the world. Its medicinal, culinary and cosmetic uses cannot be overemphasized as well as its following economic importance which the Nigerian government should consider harnessing in full.
Ginger has several varieties grown in different growing areas and are generally named according to their localities where they are grown. Some of the varieties are grouped into the following:
High dry ginger which includes Maran, Nadia, Karakkal, Manantoddy, Valluvanad.
Green ginger which includes Rio-de-janeiro, Wynad local, China, Tafengiya and Varadha.
High volatile oil which includes Sleeve Local, Himachal, Narasapatlam, etc.
High oleoresin; which includes Ernad, Chernad, China, Rio-de-janeiro, etc.
Low fiber content; which includes Jamaica, Bangkok and China.
Ginger is propagated vegetatively using its rhizomes. It requires a warm and humid climate with rainfall of about 1500mm per annum with a short dry season around harvesting time. It requires altitudes ranging from 0-800 meters above sea level. Ginger is very adaptable to a wide variety of soil types. It thrives well on sandy or clayey loam, red loam or laterite loam with good drainage and humus content but the ideal soil type for growing ginger is a sandy loam soil. Ginger does the best in partial to complete shade but can also produce good yield in open fields. When the under rainfed condition, rhizomes are planted on beds but if under irrigation system, rhizomes are planted in ridges. Planting is done between mid-april to May. The planting material is first treated with fungicide and insecticide to avoid seed borne diseases and scales. After planting, the beds are mulched with green leaves thrice at intervals of one month.
a good site should be properly selected before commencing the planting of ginger. The site must be free from stomps. It should have good irrigation system (if not rain-fed) and a well-drained soil.
To produce high yield of ginger the soil should be loose and friable. The land should be ploughed or dug thoroughly using a hoe or a plough to bring the soil to fine tilt, if possible harrowing can also be done afterwards; without such soil improvement the crop will fail to produce rhizomes of good shapes. Raised beds of about 15m-30m high, 1m width and any convenient length are prepared with an interspace of 50 cm between beds. In area prone to rhizome rot, solarization can be done using a polythene bag for 40 days. Solarization is the technique by which moist bed in the field are completely covered with polythene sheet and exposed to the sun for a period of time. The polythene sheet used for solarization should be kept away safely after the work is completed.
The planting material used in ginger cultivation is a seed rhizome. The seed rhizome used should be a carefully preserved rhizome free from pest and diseases. They are cut into small pieces of 2.5cm to 5.0cm and weigh about 25g with one or two good buds. The seed rate varies from region to region but the ideal seed rate is 1250 kg/ha. It is advised not to treat rhizomes with any chemical.
Ginger can be harvested based on demand and end use of the ginger. However, ginger attains full maturity when the leaves turn yellow and start to dry at about 7 months to 10 months after planting. If the ginger is required for fresh vegetable purpose it can be harvested earlier at about 6 months after planting, if required for making dry ginger it should be harvested when fully mature and for maximum oil and oleoresin contents it should be harvested at about 8-9 months. Irrigation should stop one month prior harvesting. Harvesting can be done with the use of spade or digging fork. In large scale farming, tractors can be used for harvesting.
Nigeria is currently one of the main producers of ginger in the world and the major producers in Africa. With its annual world production surpassing 1.5 million tons and because of the several forms in which it’s traded, Ginger is now one of the most important trade commodities in the world. The full economic importance of Ginger include but are not limited to;
As a Cash Crop: It is an important cash crop grown in Nigeria for its aromatic rhizome.
Source of Foreign Exchange: It is exported to other countries which gives valuable foreign exchange.
Raw Material: It is used in industries as raw materials for making drinks, confectionaries, etc.
Medicinal uses: It is used in pharmaceuticals for the production of important medicines and cosmetics.
As a spice and Home Remedy: ginger is one of the most widely used spices for cooking in every home and it is used for home remedies to treat various alimentary, muscle and respiratory ailments.
Source of income and revenue: ginger can be cultivated anytime of the year and anywhere whether inside or outside. It is a very versatile crop and can be cultivated 3-5 months after it was planted. Therefore is a good source of revenue as it also has a short turnover period.