Growing ginger as a profitable venture


By Henrylito D. Tacio

GINGER is a crop that grows best in the Philippines. In fact, it is so versatile that it can be grown almost any part of the country. But in spite of its suitability to Philippine conditions, ginger is still a “neglected” crop. Few farmers plant it and their produce is not enough to meet domestic consumption.

Big money awaits the entrepreneur who goes into production of good quality ginger. There is a big demand for ginger in special powdered form in Japan and Germany. In the domestic market, food factories engaged in meat canning and meat processing desperately need high-quality ginger. Sadly, local sources cannot meet the demand.

A study conducted by the small enterprise technology upgrading program (Set-up) of the Department of Science and Technology showed that a farmer with one hectare needs a capital of P141,490 for labor and inputs like seeds and fertilizer.

On regular season, a farmer will have a gross income of P300,000 (at P10 per kilogram with 30 tons yield from one hectare). During off-season, the gross income is higher by P100,000 as the price of ginger increases to P20 per kilogram (although the production is 10 tons lower than those harvested during regular season).

However, farmers who want to grow ginger should consult first the Department of Agriculture to determine the feasibility of the venture in their respective areas. Those intending to tap the export market may inquire the Department of Trade and Industry about the requirements and standards to be met.

Ginger can be grown in flat to slightly rolling areas with well drained, light to medium textured soil high in organic matter and pH of 6.8-7.0. It can grow in elevations of up to 1,500 meters above sea level with about 200-300 centimeters annual rainfall every distributed throughout the year.

A farmer needs about 800 to 1,500 kilograms of seed pieces to plant a hectare. Ginger roots are stored under shade and covered with banana or coconut leaves. Only healthy rhizomes with sprouts or eyes are selected for planting.

It takes eight to 10 months for ginger to be ready for harvest. The land must be thoroughly prepared. It is plowed and harrowed to pulverize the soil. Then beds, 30 centimeters high and one meter wide, of any length, are prepared. To prevent soil-borne diseases, the beds are sterilized by burning dried rice straw on bed surface three times.

The beds are fertilized with complete fertilizer (12-24-12) at the rate of 400 kilograms per hectare at planting time, if soil is sandy. For clay loam soils, 300 kilograms of complete fertilizer are applied at planting time; at second and fourth month, another 400 kilograms of complete fertilizer are applied.

Before planting, the seed pieces are washed in running water. Then, these are soaked for 10 to 15 minutes in a solution of acidulated mercuric bicholories (met 5.67 grams of mercuric bichloride in small porcelain cup field with hot water; mix with 5 gallons of water and add 180 ml. of concentrated hydrochloric acid). This treatment is done to protect seed pieces from pests. The seeds are cut into 20 to 50 gram sizes.

The seed pieces are buried five centimeters deep, arranged in triangular pattern, 30 centimeters apart on each bed. After planting, the crop is watered thoroughly or the canals between beds are flooded.

Generally, ginger requires regular hand weeding during its growth period. One month after planting, hand weed is recommended. The frequency of subsequent weeding depends on weed density. To suppress weed growth, the plants may be mulched with coconut leaves or rice straw.

When leaves are yellowing and withering, the crop is ready for harvest. However, harvest time depends on the requirements of consumers. For the local market, after 10 to 11 months; for pickling and salting, five to seven months; for dehydration, six to eight months; and for fresh ginger export, after seven to 10 months. Harvesting should be done before the rhizomes become fibrous or when the leaves or stalks are yellow and withering.

Three men can harvest the crop. One digs up every hill with a spading fork; another pulls out the plants, shakes off the soil and lays them on the bed in wind rows; the third cuts off stems without breaking ginger bulbs.

"Everything good is found in ginger," so goes a popular Indian proverb. It can be consumed fresh, dehydrated, powdered, or pickled. The Filipino traditional health drink called salabat is made from boiled fresh or powdered ginger. It also adds flavor to some common dishes like tinola, goto, arroz caldo, paksiw, batchoy, and pinakbet.

Likewise, it is used as an ingredient in the manufacture of softdrinks and in the preparation of preserved.

But what most Filipinos don't know is that ginger is also a medicinal plant. In the United States, ginger is "generally recognized safe" by the Food and Drug Administration, though it is not approved for the treatment or cure of any disease and is sold as an unregulated dietary supplement.

The Minnesota-based Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research recommends ginger for nausea and vomiting. “To prevent nausea after surgery,” it instructs, “ginger has been given as one gram by mouth one hour before surgery. For chemotherapy- induced nausea, capsules of ginger root powder have been given orally one gram per day for five days, starting on the first day of chemotherapy.”

Ginger does not prevent morning sickness but it may help ease some of the nausea experienced by pregnant women, Australian researchers reported in the April 2004 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Researchers from the University of South Australia in Adelaide gave nearly 300 women either 350 milligrams of ginger or 25 milligrams of vitamin B6 three times per day for three weeks. The researchers found that both ginger and vitamin B6, which is sometimes taken to counteract morning sickness, worked equally well at alleviating nausea symptoms.

Some sources warn against higher doses in pregnancy due to concerns about mutations or abortion. "Supervision by a qualified healthcare professional is recommended for pregnant women considering the use of ginger," the Mayo Clinic suggests.

Mounting evidence suggests that ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties. "And you don’t have to use a lot," said Dr. Neal Barnard, author of Foods That Fight Pain. "It works like ibuprofen, but without the side effects."

Thing is, you need some ginger every day to feel the results. Slice a half-teaspoon to a teaspoon of fresh ginger and use it to flavor your stir-fry vegetables or sauces, or mix it with some boiling water and let it cool down before drinking.

Now, here's a word of warning: Though generally recognized as safe, ginger can cause heartburn, bloating, gas, belching and nausea, particularly if taken in powdered form. Allergic reactions to ginger generally result in a rash. Individuals who have had ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease or blocked intestines may react badly to large quantities of fresh ginger. Ginger should not be used by children under two years of age.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 9, 2009.

5 comments:

  1. San po pwedeng mkabili ng maraming luya direct from farmers here in Luzon?

    ReplyDelete
  2. balak mobang bumili ng luya, kc sa region namin ay maraming nananim? sa davao...

    ReplyDelete
  3. gusto ko pong magstart magtanim ng luya sa aming lugar sa quezon province. pwede po bang makahingi ng ilang advice at tips kung paano makakapagsimula at kung magkano ang saktong magagastos at ano ang mga dapat pagkagastusan. i have 12 hectares ready.

    ReplyDelete
  4. nais ko pong magstart magtanim ng luya sa aming lugar sa Quezon Province. hihingi lang po sana ako ng ilang tips kung pano makapagsimula hanggang sa makapag-ani. magkano po ang puhunan, ano ang mga materyales, at saan ko pwedeng ibenta after the harvest. i have 12 hectares ready for this project.

    ReplyDelete

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