Kenya Ginger as a Less Grown Crop with More Returns Potential

The growing of ginger across East Africa, particularly Kenya and Uganda, has began to attract regional attention. Importers from other African lands like Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia who have tastes for spices like turmeric and onions are all having a hand in the increment of the farming of the crop. Ginger has, for a long time, been a low-profile crop in the continent but in recent times exports to mainland Asia and Europe have boosted its growth.

The possible returns, per acre, of Kenya ginger is dependent on the acreage. In growth terms, a hectare requires around 1.5 tons of root rhizome, the shoot from which ginger is propagated.

To plant ginger, one requires a root that has the appearance of a thick cassava and is usually just a short 5-inch length. The best ones to produce a strong plant should at least have two or more buds that allow new healthy shoots. Some family growers also look out for a number of sprouts per piece that they call fingers.

In order to get the best rhizomes for planting, it is essential to harvest the pre-planting ginger when it is still green at around 9 months after planting. This is not for consumption but for keeping aside until the next season comes for planting. In any case, one has to carefully pull the root from the soil and ensure that it has a few leaves on it before cutting the best part of it ready to plant. It is possible to preserve the root for a period of a maximum half a year in a cool environment including in fridges, to improve adaptability during transplanting.

Ginger undergoes consumption in a number of ways. These include as fresh produce, when in crushed powder form, in oil or even as juice. Depending on one’s taste, one thing is always universal about ginger: it is aromatic and adds a lot of spice to the meal despite being sometimes strong in smell.

Harvesting when demand is high

Because of its predictable yield, aided by the fact that the crop performs consistently with low pest infestation, it is best to irrigate ginger to sell it when demand is high. There are not many competitor farmers so one will have a field day at the market.

The harvest from a typical farm can bring high returns especially because the crop is not as common per area in comparison to horticultural favorites like Kenya tomatoes. For instance in Uganda, where ginger or nganda is now common, it is possible to reap around three hundred sacks of the crop.

Harvesting begins 10 months after the propagation of the rootstock. This is usually around the months of November to January as most East African farmers plant theirs during the long rains around March of the year. This means that there would have been sufficient heavy rainfall and tropical warmth (ginger requires a lengthy spell of consistent rain and in its wake an equally lengthy dry spell).

To harvest ginger, you need to follow these guidelines:

  • Wait until the leaves have transformed from a green to yellow hue.
  • Use a blunt fork to excise the little clump of ginger fruit from the soil. If it is still green it will be mature, but needs more time to build up better flavor.
  • After stocking the cut ginger roots separately from the food clumps, it is now time to wash the clumps for storage. Before preserving them it is essential to keep them under the shade for 48 hours to heal any cuts on the skin. If the ginger is more than mature, it may need an extra time to dry.
  • Packaging happens in crates that have wire openings on the sides, all for keeping in a cool storage area prior to shipping.

Ginger is also possible to preserve in processed powder form. This is usually best in airtight packets that have clear labels for buyers. The shelf life is usually more than the 6 months that a raw produce requires under a refrigerated condition.

Though the crop has been a favorite in local homes for a long time, Kenya ginger is just beginning to enjoy the maximum agricultural potential that it has deserved for long. As a medium-grown crop, it can turn the fortunes of a family grower when demand is at its height in tandem with low supplies.