Ginger farmers lament neglect by government, rip-off by marketers
Nigeria ranks third largest exporter of Ginger after China and India globally, accounting for between 500 to 1,000 tonnes yearly.
Ginger is produced in six states of the federation namely-Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, Niger, Bauchi and Gombe. Kaduna is the largest producer, accounting for about 50 per cent of Nigeria’s total harvest. It is followed by Gombe, and Bauchi, then Benue, Nasarawa and Niger states.
In 2018 alone, Kaduna State harvested a total of 724, 000mt. Ginger is commonly grown in Kachia, Kaura, Jaba, Zonkwa, Kagarko, Zangon Kataf, Sanga and Kajuru, and has remained the most important ginger growing area in the country. These areas, referred to as the traditional home of ginger production, place the country on the world map as a major producer of ginger.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Nigeria’s production in 2005 was estimated at 110,000 metric tons (mt), it increased to 156,000mt in 2012, accounting for seven per cent in the world and ranked 4th globally.
Out of this, it was learnt that only 10 per cent is locally consumed fresh, while 90 per cent is dried primarily for export.
Findings show that ginger is well known and in high demand in local markets, though it is expensive. A large percentage of it is exported to China, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, France, United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Chad, Sudan and Ghana, among others.
One of the reasons for increased demand for the product in the export market is its high quality, rated among the best.
Ginger has aromatic, culinary, and medicinal properties. The root plant is used in cooking and as herbal remedy since ancient times.
A medical personnel, who also cultivates ginger in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State, Tom Olukpo told The Guardian in Makurdi that the crop can cure stomach upset, heart burns, diarrhea and dry throat, among others, adding that “ginger is very important to humanity.”
But despite its potentials, findings show that the export trade of ginger has declined due to lack of attention and due to unattractive prices in the international market.
The Guardian learnt that despite huge output from Kaduna State, farmers are yet to hit goldmine, due to a myriad of challenges, which have made it difficult to maximize the potentials in the value chain.
It is the same scenario in Benue State. The farmers believe more should be done to position the state in the global market.
A ginger farmer in Kachia, Kaduna State, Mr. Iliya Gambo said the major challenge has to do with the marketers. He disclosed that farmers are selling their produce at a loss as a result of bad pricing by marketers. He appealed to government to set up a board that would enable them enjoy proper pricing.
“In a calculated attempt by marketers to milk us dry, they control the pricing. These marketers buy at low price of N7, 000 to N10, 000 per bag from us and resell to companies and international markets at N50, 000 and above, leaving us with no profit. Small-scale farmers are not finding it easy at all with this.
“Government should intervene by allowing the international buyers and companies to come and buy directly from us and not the middlemen because they are short-changing us. We are running at loss,” Gambo said.
Another farmer, Mr. Job Auta, who buttressed the point, said the domineering influence of marketers who decide the price prevent some farmers from selling their produce despite the increased demand for ginger internationally; a situation which he said might affect ginger farming across the country.
“As a small scale farmer in 2015, I benefited a lot. I was able to produce 75 bags of ginger and I sold it at N30, 000 per bag. But compared to this period the price has reduced; we sell a bag at the rate of N10, 000 to the marketers, which is against our wish. We are running at a loss.”
Auta also identified increased insecurity in the Southern part of Kaduna, where ginger is mostly cultivated as challenge.
“I don’t think many people will be able to partake in farming this year, due to the rise in kidnappings and banditry in Southern Kaduna. There is possibility of shortage of ginger in the country, as a result of this development. Areas like Karamai, Iri, Kajuru, down to part of Kachia Council where ginger is mostly farmed, is now the base of kidnappers and bandits. These people mostly come and terrorise people there,” he said.
“Another challenge is scarcity of farm inputs, such as fertilizer and chemicals. Government is not supporting us. We could not get the Anchor Borrowers Program fund like our counterparts who cultivate rice. We are left alone running our business.”
Asked whether he benefitted from the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) he said: “Politicians and elites decide who gets the fertilizer and even before the fertilizer gets to us, the price is already inflated. These people buy it at the rate of N5, 500 and sell at N8, 000 to us.”
Another farmer, Engr. Abdulrahman Ali Musa, who is the Kaduna State Coordinator of FEDHON Seed Cooperative Society, said lack of credit facility, poor finance negligence on the part of government limit the scope of cultivation of ginger in the state.
According to him, “ginger famers lack modern knowledge. Government has not made any tangible provision for the ginger farmers to transform them into mechanised farmers.
“If government looks into all these challenges and proffer solutions, ginger farmers will be able to cultivate in commercial quantity. Government should provide enabling environment for farmers, so that private investors will develop interest in them,” Musa said.
The immediate past Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Benue State, Comrade Aondona Kuhe suggested a change in the settlement patterns of farmers, noting that cluster farmers are better disposed to incentives and loans to boost their activities.
The newly elected Chairman of Ginger Farmers Association in Benue State, Comrade Timothy Vanger told The Guardian that currently, ginger production stands at between 500 to 1,000 tonnes per year; and making farmers in the sub sector to generate about N500m annually.
Vanger expressed disgust that ginger farmers in the state are growing the local parsee, only for the domestic market; noting that efforts are in top gear to start cultivation of the approved parsee that can be marketed internationally.
“We got approval from Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System For Agricultural Lending, a subsidiary of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to farm about 1,500 hectares of the approved parsee of ginger in one place this cropping year and we have already got 200 hectares at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.”
He expressed worry that since they have met all the requisite conditions to be granted N1.5b from CBN on five per cent equity contribution for this year’s farming season, nothing has been released to them till this moment.
Tom Olukpo, a farmer in Otukpo council area called on governments at all levels to look into challenges facing the crop, in order to boost its cultivation not only as source of revenue, but health needs of the people.