Nigeria has seen an increase in revenue from the exportation of ginger, with the crop’s export value increasing by 752.4 percent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period of 2018.
From N942 million worth of ginger exports in the first three months of 2018, the value was N8.03 billion in the first three months of this year, growing more than seven-fold within five years.
Full-year values have been consistently increasing too. Ginger exports increased from N2.75 billion in 2018 to N3.34 billion in 2019. In 2020, its growth was more than double, recording N6.98 billion, and this was sustained in 2021 as ginger exports rose to N12.05 billion. With the highest quarterly growth on record now seen in 2022 (at N8 billion, which is even more than full-year 2020), the final outcome at the end of this year is expected to show an even higher growth.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, ginger is one of Nigeria’s main agricultural export products, and it has ranked steadily as the fourth- or fifth-highest. In recent years, interest in ginger in any of its various forms has been increasing as it is seen as a preventive or therapeutic agent. This has also meant Nigeria’s production and sales of ginger have been on the increase, to meet both local and international demands.
“Nigeria’s ginger is one of the best in the world, and the improvement noticed in the international market also owes to the improvements we have been making, besides just farming. Packaging has also improved,” Mikah Adamu Sule, deputy president of National Ginger Association of Nigeria (NGAN), said. “We don’t use chemicals now; it’s purely organic fertiliser.”
A highly sought-after commodity in Asia, Europe, and America, ginger is widely used in food seasonings and the root crop is increasingly seeing local and global demands.
Sule explained that the farmers have taken seriously the need to add value to their crop in order to unlock potentials to earn substantial dollars for the country.
According to him, the farmers make use of clean mats to spread and dry their gingers instead of the previous practice of spreading them on bare floors. “At the end of the day, it looks cleaner and attractive,” Sule said.
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Nigeria started the cultivation of ginger in 1927 around Kwoi, Kubacha, Kafanchan, and Kagarko areas of southern Kaduna State and the neighbouring parts of Plateau State, according to a 2011 study titled ‘Evaluation of farmers’ response to extension services on ginger production in Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State’.
The crop is now produced in Nasarawa, Sokoto, Benue, Osun, Anambra, Zamfara, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Abia, and Lagos states, but Southern Kaduna remains the largest producer of fresh ginger in Nigeria.
While ginger is a major commodity in the agricultural sector that brings revenue to the country, experts have said the crop’s potentials have been largely under-explored.
Countries and companies were reportedly said to be on the lookout for ginger, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic as it was found to be containing compounds with huge health benefits. This led to a price increase in the international market.
Lydia Sule, a ginger farmer, told BusinessDay that one of the bottlenecks in the country’s production of the crop is funding. Other stakeholders in the business of ginger farming said the venture is capital-intensive, and when farmers have to go through endless processes of seeking funds for production, they are discouraged.
“Also, we are trying to see how we can introduce ginger to other states to participate in production. Just a few states cannot feed the whole world with ginger,” she said.
Sule, the NGAN deputy president, added that farming ginger is manual and requires a lot of labour. “Only a few can farm more than 1 or 2 hectares because of the tediousness. Ginger is a product that when you farm it, you cannot lose,” he said.
For those who defy funding and labour challenges to produce the crop, the financial rewards continue to grow. Ginger is used in food and drinks as well as for pharmaceutical purposes, cosmetics, and domestic first-aids, among others.