Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a perennial herbaceous crop that belongs to the Zingiberaceae family.
The ginger plant is native to South-Eastern Asia, but it has spread around the world throughout the centuries. Notably in Europe and Africa.
China is the world’s top exporter of ginger, accounting for over half of all crushed or ground ginger exports as well as non-crushed or non-ground ginger exports.
In Africa, Nigeria leads the way as Africa’s greatest ginger exporter with approximately 7.2 percent of the crop exported in-ground and non-ground forms.
Importance of Ginger
Ginger is prized for its spicy flavour and is used for different purposes.
It comes in a variety of forms, including fresh, dried, powdered, oil, and juice, and is sometimes used in processed meals and cosmetics.
Ginger is grown for its spice and therapeutic properties in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world Nigeria included.
Ginger can also be used to treat Nausea, loss of appetite, constipation, and muscle soreness even though there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.
They have proven to work in many cases and are still being used on daily basis.so, how can one grow this important crop?
How to start Ginger Farming
To plant Ginger successfully, you need suitable land with enough organic matter.
Below are the steps to grow Ginger.
Step 1: Site Selection
Ginger is somewhat selective when it comes to the type of land, when planted on a correctly selected farm site, the ginger plant can achieve all of its excellent attributes and produce huge, healthy rhizomes.
The ginger plant requires a lot of shade. Ginger may be grown with both tall and pole-growing crops. It is, nevertheless, grown on a huge scale in open places.
Choose a farm location where the plants will receive plenty of light but not direct sunlight, as well as adequate wind shelter.
Before choosing a particular location, the following requirement should be considered
It is critical to do soil tests on any piece of land where you wish to grow plants.
This is due to the fact that various plants require varied soil compositions to thrive.
During a soil test, the NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) ratio, organic content, water retention capacity, and pH value of the soil are all crucial factors to consider.
Ginger can be grown in a variety of soils, but it grows best in well-drained, friable, loamy soil that is rich in organic matter and has little rhizome resistance.
Alkaline soil is not conducive to the growth of ginger. It favours soils that are somewhat acidic. If your soil is alkaline, use a garden pH kit to bring it down to a pH of 5.5–6.5.
It’s worth noting that ginger is a rainforest plant, and in a rainforest, there’s a lot of leaf litter.
Leaf litter can be up to 10-20 cm deep, and if a plant has evolved in those conditions, it will require that level of protection.
Mulching ginger with green leaves is necessary to improve the germination of seed rhizomes and to reduce weeds.
It aids in the addition of organic matter and the conservation of moisture during the later stages of the cropping season.
Ginger prefers a temperature of 30°C to 35°C. It also needs a humid climate with roughly 1500mm of annual rainfall and no rain a month before harvest.
Ginger may be grown in locations with altitudes ranging from 0 to 1500 meters above sea level, both rainfed and irrigated.
Step 2: Land preparation for Ginger farming
To have a good harvest after planting, you must properly prepare the soil, the soil must be well-drained soil.
To make crop harvesting easier, the soil should be ploughed thoroughly, forming 15 cm high, 1-meter broad, and convenient length beds with at least 50 cm between beds.
In the event of irrigated farming, 40-centimetre-wide ridges should be used.
To enhance the soil, add pasteurized animal manure (waste from chickens, cattle, pigs, and other animals) or compost manure.
It makes sense for the ginger plant to have more organic materials in the soil.
Ploughing improves aeration and allows manure to penetrate deep into the soil, where it can help the roots.
After ploughing, the raised beds should be solarized to prevent pests and disease-causing organisms from spreading.
Solarization is an environmentally beneficial approach to managing pests and diseases by harnessing the power of the sun.
To do so, a transparent polythene sheet is placed over the soil to trap the solar energy.
In the soil, this energy generates physical, chemical, and biological changes.
After 30-45 days of solarization, the polythene sheets used to cover the soil should be carefully stored.
Step 3: Planting
In tropical areas like Nigeria, ginger planting should be done late in the dry season or early in the wet season.
In the dry season, a good irrigation system should be made available.
Ginger is not water demanding but water may be needed at the plant sprout.
How to plant Ginger
Ginger is planted with the buds pointing upward, each piece of ginger sett should be planted 5–10cm below loose soil and 15-20cm apart.
Alternatively, you can build ridges 15-20cm high by digging shallow trenches in rows, then placing setts at a suitable spacing in rows and earthing them up.
After seeding, give the land a gentle watering. Mulch to keep the moisture in the soil.
Ginger requires a lot of water when it is actively developing. The soil should never be allowed to dry out. However, don’t overwater because the nutrients will be washed away with the water.
Step 4: Growth and care for Ginger plants
To make the most out of your Ginger, you must observe it very well as it grows, prevent pests and disease using pesticides and insecticides
Conogethes punctiferalis, Aspidiella hartii, rhizome scale, rhizome fly, and thrips are among the insects that attack ginger.
Sunburn (because of high light intensity) and lime-induced chlorosis (due to excessive liming in the soil) are abiotic factors that affect the ginger crop.
You can prevent them by sun-drying the soil before planting, disinfection, use chemicals and other manual methods such as early weeding.
Step 5: Harvest
Ginger is collected at various times depending on its intended use. It is usually harvested after 5 to 6 months for use in confectionery ginger items.
Meanwhile, fresh ginger is harvested once the leaves have gone off, usually after 10 to 18 months.
Mechanical pullers and diggers are used to harvest the plant, or manual labour is used to pull and gather the rhizomes by hand.
The harvesting method used by one farmer may differ from that of another depending on the size of the operation and the season of harvest.
To raise and collect rhizomes, most big and medium-scale ginger producers use machinery.
Some medium and small-scale farmers mechanically lift the rhizomes and collect them by hand, while others do the entire harvesting process by hand.
Ginger is available in a variety of forms after harvesting, including fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, crystallized (or candied), powdered, and pulverized. Ginger is most typically processed into a dried form.
Summary of Ginger farming
Ginger is an important plant because of its numerous usages, which ranges from wine production, Pharmaceutical medicines, ginger beer, cordials, and pickles.
Daily consumption of 5 g of ginger has been shown to protect against coronary artery disease (CAD), which is common among people who eat fatty foods. Ginger use boosts fibrinolytic activity and hence protects against coronary artery disease.
You can easily plant ginger and grow it at the back of the house.