The demand for ginger and its good prices has attracted farmers in Mukono to venture into its cultivation as one way to boost their incomes
By Mike Musisi Musoke
The demand for ginger and its good prices has attracted farmers in Mukono to venture into its cultivation as one way to boost their incomes.
Over 100 farmers on Sunday gathered at Nsanja-Katosi in Mukono district and formed an association, Mukono Ginger Farmers Association, to help them boost the production of this crop.
The group’s chairperson, Obulu, said they are going to educate farmers about how to grow this crop and also to mobilize resources such as seeds and fertilizers to distribute to farmers to plant as the rain season starts.
He said the market in Sudan has led to scarcity of the crop where by the local and international demand has shot up. He said Sudanese need 60 tons every week.
Farmers on a tour of Kisubika's ginger farm. Photo By Kiwanuka Kalemba
Edward Kisubika, the group’s coordinator and leading ginger producer in the area, hosted hosted the meeting and lectured about the production of this crop.
Kisubika said he has grown ginger for the past two years and has benefitted a lot.
"I was a fisherman at Katosi landing site but due to the fishing related problems, I quit. I resorted to vanilla but when prices fell, I lost all my money I had invested. I kept growing vanilla and food crops but with little commercial benefit.
Two years ago I visited my friends at Butambala. What I found was unbelievable. They were earning big from ginger and told me the venture was more profitable than any other crop.
Kisubika displays a tool used for digging in a ginger garden. Photo by Kiwanuka Kalemba
First of all few farmers engaged in it; secondly market was readily available and thirdly it required little input as compared to tomatoes in terms of pesticides.
I bought two basins of seeds from them and returned with those to Mukono to try out my luck. I planted and they yields were good. I then decided to grow ginger on a commercial basis and I have benefited a lot.
These days we sell a kilogram between sh8,000 and 10,000 and seeds at sh10,000 per kilogram. I can invest about sh5m and make over sh20m out of an acre. You need about 360 kilograms of seeds to cover an acre.
Kisubika teaches farmers how to grow jinger. Photo by Kiwanuka Kalemba
Now the market has widened. Ginger is highly demanded here in Uganda, Congo and Southern Sudan. Our customers want 60 tons every week from Mukono but I can say as of now we have nothing to supply them.
So we have established an association to mobilize Mukono Farmers join the production of ginger and earn.
Membership is just sh10,000. So far we have registered over 100 members. The association shall organize workshops, and demonstrations on ginger production.
The association shall also acquire fertilizers and seeds and supply to farmers. We also plan to lobby for funding and get a ginger processing machine and set up the first processing factory in Mukono.
Famers wishing to learn to grow ginger can reach us at 0752 211 386.
Kisubika displays the harvested ginger and the hoe that is used for digging in the garden. Photo by Kiwanuka Kalemba
I grew half an acre of ginger the last season and invested about sh5m on seeds, fertilizers and labour. I reaped over sh20m. Ginger is harvested at nine months.
Environment for growing ginger
According to ‘A Farmers’ Manual in Uganda by Walusimbi Baagala 2011’, ginger’s scientific name is Zingiber Officinale and other crops in the ginger family include Curcumalonga or Turmeric (locally called Ebinzaali).
Baagala says ginger can grow in a variety of soils that have good drainage and rich in phosphoric nutrients.
Deep loam soils are the best for the production of the crop but clay soils, sandy soils, and stony soils must be avoided.
Preparation of the field
Ginger needs a well prepared field were the soils have been dug and softened such that when the crop starts growing, it easily breaks through.
Weeding must be regular, from day one. Weeding is done by hand not hoes. Hoes destroy the rhizomes down.
Coffee husks are good fertilizers for the ginger crop. An acre can take about 3 to 6 lorries. The husks can be applied before planting. They are spread out evenly in the whole field and then covered with soils.
Also phosphate is good for fertilizing; an acre requires a supply of 50kg. These are mixed in the soils at planting.
Planting the crop
Ginger is propagated by dividing the root stock or rhizomes. Seeds are planted 30cm from each other in drills in the field spaced by 60cm.
A maturity crop shows yellowing of the aerial parts and withering. The top part finally dries off and falls to the ground. It is advisable to leave the crop unharvested for the first year and it sprouts again and is harvested at the second year. In this way, the yields increase.
Harvesting is done by uprooting the whole plant. The yields depend on many factors like fertility of the soils, supply of rains, and others but if all goes well, an acre can produce about 2 to 8 tons.
If a kilogram is sold at sh8,000 at the field, a single ton can fetch sh8,000,000.
Pests and diseases
Root mealy bugs tend to attack the crops but not seriously. For the diseases, a fungal infection arising from excessive use of coffee husks during dump weather causes damage to plants.
A white mycelium covers the soil and the shoots get affected at ground level. Shed and dump weather are the cause of this condition. Avoid too much shed in the field.
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