Ginger farming, especially in Kenya has attracted attention not only from Africa but also from Europe and Asia. Previously, ginger was a low-profile crop. The high demand from Europe, mainland Asia, and African countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria who have a taste for spices has boosted the cultivation of ginger. What most people don’t know is that this is a crop with more returns potential.
Uses of Ginger
Ginger rhizomes can be used either grounded or chopped into crisps and be used for many purposes. For instance, they can be used to add flavour to tea and as a spice in foods. Medically, it can be used to minimize acid reflux in the body and to help in fighting menstrual torments, colds, and influenza.
Things you Should Know When you Venture into Ginger Farming
Before you venture into ginger farming, there are a couple of things that you should know. These include;
Pick the best cultivar
Once you decide to do commercial ginger farming, you should look for the best cultivar. The Kenyan, Jamaican, and Indian cultivars are the sorts of cultivars that thrive in Kenya. The Jamaican cultivar, however, is the most suggested for commercial farming. Indian and Kenyan cultivars are viewed as sub-par and have a dim skin hence not ideal for commercial purposes.
Ideal soil conditions and climate for ginger farming
The size and shape of tubers are some of the factors that people consider before buying. Ginger performs best in soils with an alkaline or neutral pH. Acidic soils influence the size and shape of ginger rhizomes and hence farmers should not cultivate ginger in such soils. Ginger thrives in areas that receive overwhelming precipitation that is followed by a hot dry season. In Kenya, they flourish in Coastal areas and areas close to Lake Victoria.
Nematodes in Ginger Farming
Ginger rhizomes are susceptible to nematodes although they can be managed by ensuring crop rotation with plants such as chillies. Farms that have been previously used for cultivating bananas should be avoided since they increase the possibility of ginger being affected by nematodes. Ginger rhizomes should be dipped in fungicides before planting to minimize the cases of nematodes.
Manure and Fertilizer Application
To ensure healthy growth and optimum yields, regular manuring should be ensured. Manure should be applied regularly to ensure that the plants have the necessary nutrients. Fertilizers can also be applied especially in soils that are not fertile to provide the plants with the required nutrients. Fertilizer application is recommended during planting.
Weeding and Mulching
Mulching plays an important role in ginger farming. For instance, it enhances water retention, increases soil fertility and helps in controlling weeds. Also it minimizes water loss through evaporation. Ginger can be mulched using grass or debris. Weeds can compete with the plants and hence they should be controlled early. Chemical control should, however, be avoided.
Harvesting and Storage
Time for harvesting the rhizomes varies and their demand is high throughout the year. Ginger takes between 8 – 10 months to mature depending on the weather conditions. After harvesting, dried ginger should be stored in an area that free from dampness. One acre can produce about 10 tonnes of crisp ginger. In the local market, a small ginger rhizome goes for around KES 5 – KES 10 depending with the market and hence you can imagine the amount of money you will receive with 10 tonnes.