Ginger is well known in many human communities around the world. It is the underground rhizome of a perennial tropical crop called ginger plant (Zingiberofficinale). Originally, the plant is a native of South Eastern Asia but over centuries has been introduced to various parts of the world like the Caribbean, the Americas and Africa. Presently, the top growers of the crop include Jamaica, Indonesia, Fiji etc. A mature ginger rhizome is fibrous and has a striated texture. The outer skin of the rhizome is brownish in colour while the inner flesh depending on the variety may be red, yellow or white.
Ginger in Nigeria
Nigeria is one of the top producers of ginger in the world. In the Nigerian market, ginger is well known and on high demand even though it is quite expensive.
Kaduna State stands as the highest producer of the crop while states like Gombe, Bauchi, Benue, Nassarawa among others are major producers of the crop.
In the market, ginger is available in various forms; fresh ginger rhizome, powder ginger and dry ginger rhizome.
For ginger to thrive, the following are required .
Mulched fertile soil. .
Loam is the most preferred soil type . Ridges should be made for the planting of the crop . A minimum annual rainfall of about 1500mm . An average daily temperature of about 30°C . Viable ginger rhizomes with buds . Good drainage to prevent water logging/flooding
Ginger is cultivated vegetative from its rhizomes. The vegetative propagation of ginger involves the following steps; Sett preparation: When the fingers of rhizomes to be propagated begin to develop buds, they are cut into smaller pieces called SETT.
A sett is about 3cm in length with each sett having at least a bud. The set to be propagated is usually stored until signs of growing are noticed before planting is performed. Planting: Ginger is planted by burying each sett in a hole about 8cm deep with the bud of each sett pointing upwards in the soil. The sett should be spaced 30×30cm apart. Each sett grows into a new ginger plant. Planting should be performed about a month before the rains come.
Planting Rate 2500kg per hectare
Fertiliser: Both organic and inorganic fertilizers can be used. Compost manure is preferable. The preferred fertiliser in Nigeria for ginger growing is the N.P.K 15:15:15 which is applied twice; first about 20 days after planting at a rate of four bags per hectare. The second application is about 40 days after the first application at the rate of 2 bags per hectare. Urea is used during the second fertilizer application.
Weed control: Controlling weed growth in the ginger farm can be done manually by hand picking or by using chemicals (herbicides). Pest and disease control: Mites, shoot borers and leaf rollers are some major pests that usually attack ginger plant. These pests can be controlled by using pesticides and insecticides. Captan is used to control some diseases that affect ginger plant like leaf spot.
Harvesting: On the average, ginger takes about nine months from the time of planting to mature. The rhizome can be harvested at different times depending on its purpose. If fresh ginger is required, it is harvested about six month after planting. If a matured ginger rhizome is required, it is harvested nine months after planting. Sometimes the rhizomes are left in the ground for nearly two years for propagation to continue.
In Nigeria, harvesting begins in October and runs all through to May. Ginger rhizome can be harvested manually by hand or with machines such as the mechanical digger.
Expected Yield 20 tons per hectare
Processing: The activities involved in processing ginger depend on the end product required. When the harvested rhizome is washed with boiling water and dried later, the product is called dried ginger and this can be grinded to produce powder ginger or can be used as a full dried ginger rhizome. The rhizome can also be processed as fresh ginger or be peeled.
Uses of Ginger
It is used as a spice in many local cuisines; Used in bakeries as flavor A constituent of some local (herbal) medicines; It is used in breweries to produce ginger ale or ginger beer; Ginger plant can be used for landscaping. Intercropping Coconuts with Ginger.
Preparing the seed pieces:
Select fresh and healthy seed pieces weighing at least 20 grams each and showing signs of early sprouting. Before planting, wash the seed pieces in running water. Then soak them for 10 to 15 minutes in a solution of acidulated mercuric bichloride (for every 20 liters water, add 45 grams captan).