Ginger is an underground rhizome plant that has a brownish skin with the insides having colours ranging from red, yellow or white depending on the variety planted. The best variety to plant in Uganda is the local one known as the Landrace (Nganda) because it is drought resistant and is not easily affected by diseases. Ginger locally known as Tangawizi in Uganda can either be grown on a small scale or a large scale depending on the size of land. Ginger is a good plant that has plenty of healthy benefits. For example, it acts as a painkiller, it helps in clearing breath, it can be used as an antiseptic and it also helps cure the common flu.
Tangawizi at the moment is not grown on a large scale by many farmers despite having a high demand both on the local and international market and the main reason is because many farmers do not know what really is needed to grow the rhizomes and the steps that will make you earn enough profits from ginger farming. The other challenge that is faced by ginger farmers is the availability of poor ginger rhizomes on the market that bring out poor yields.
Planting of ginger in Uganda
Ginger is well grown in tropical climates and can be grown in both partial and full shade. Ginger is planted using the roots (rhizomes) and in order for the ginger to grow well and healthy, the rhizome should at least be about 4 to 5 inches long with growth buds. You should not plant withered rhizomes but look out for the healthy looking ones because they will give you healthy ginger during the harvesting period. After getting the 5 inch long rhizome, the next step is to break it into two but make sure that each part has a root bud on it. Soak the rhizomes in warm water for a night and then plant them with the eye buds facing upwards.
The rhizomes should be placed at least 5cm deep into the soil. Note that ginger requires you to plant them in fertile well drained loamy soils. If the soil lacks some nutrients after testing, you can add compost manure to make sure that it is suitable for the growth of ginger. The ginger does not need a lot of land to be grown because it spreads over time in the one spit when planted.
Once you finish planting the ginger, make sure that there is regular irrigation if you don’t want to have withered or rotten ginger before harvest period. If the plants are well drained, you will get to see leaves sprouting from the ground a week or two after planting the rhizomes. After the leaves start sprouting, you can reduce the watering of the ginger but you still need to make sure that the soil is well drained. Mulching is also encouraged when planting ginger because it reduces the growth of weeds and at the same time, provides nutrients to the ginger.
Harvesting of ginger in Uganda
Ginger can grow up to 4 feet in height if well taken care of and you will find green narrow leaves reaching up to that height or less. Four months after planting, the ginger will be ready for harvest and one of the indicators that it is ready will be the ginger roots pushing and appearing above the ground. Although the ginger can be harvested a bit earlier, the best time is at 10 months when they are at full maturity but this all depends on the demand on the market. The best way to harvest the ginger is by digging a small clump at the side of the plant and removing the amount that you need from every ginger plant.
Ginger is also harvested at different intervals depending on what you are going to use it for and an explanation has been listed below:
Ginger used for dried and fresh products is harvested at 9 to 10 months when the volatile oil content is at its maximum.
Ginger for preservation is harvested at 7 months when the fiber content is low.
After harvesting, the ginger rhizomes need to be stored in a place where it will not be easy for them to rot or be attacked by either pests or diseases. The fully matured ginger rhizomes are sun dried and then stored for longer preservation whereas the fresh ginger is washed immediately after harvesting and then air dried before being packaged and stored.
The powdered ginger is stored in air tight containers, sun dried rhizomes can be stored for about 6 months in either cupboards or refrigerators and they can also be stored in slatted boxes which are kept under cool conditions.
Market for ginger in Uganda
The current market for ginger is way too high as compared to the ginger that is currently produced in the country and currently a bag of ginger goes for shs26, 000 and this normally applies during the low season however the price can increase or go down depending on where you are purchasing it from. There is also a large market in the surrounding countries like Kenya and Rwanda and it can also be exported to other countries like Germany.