Rivers explores ginger market with support from NEPC

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·NGAN wants Rivers to capture huge share of Nigeria’s $10m market size

By Ignatius Chukwu

Rivers State is set to lead other states in the oil region to explore the ginger economy. This push is being driven by the Nigerian Export Promotions Council (NEPC).

Details:

NEPC and the Rivers State chapter of the National Ginger Farmers Association of Nigeria (NGAN) have launched a push to make ginger an export product. This is said to be in a bid to capture a big size of the $7Bn global market size per annum and dominate Nigeria’s paltry $10m market size.

Both parties have already confirmed that ginger can grow even better in the south-south and south-east as the southern variant has already been confirmed one of the best in the world.

NGAN said it has already acquired 5,000 hectares and farmed the first set from 2021 to 2022 to prove the point. Now, it was gathered, the time for massive production for commercial scale has come.

To launch the push, NEPC mounted a stakeholders training programme in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at Aldgate Congress Hotel on Abacha Road in the GRA Phase 3 where experts especially from Umudike in Abia State and Korean company delivered presentations on various aspects of ginger production and processing.

The South-South Zonal Coordinator of NEPC, Joe Itah, delivered both welcome remarks and a presentation on export readiness.

Itah, who also represented the Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Ezra Yakusak, said the training was the first of its kind in ginger economy, and said the need for a ginger revolution has become even more urgent in the aftermath of Covid-19 that made the consumption of ginger a more important need.

The south-south coordinator reminded Nigerians that ginger is now called the gold cash crop and that it has shown great economic value across countries of the world.

He said: “As at 2020, the size of the ginger industry was globally adjudged to be worth $6.82BN, with Nigeria having valued share of $9.66m only – from about 600, 000 metric tonnes. The preference for ginger product as quick win crop acceptable widely across nations are adduced to the fact its incredible health benefits including digestion, tooth ache relieve, anti-cold/flu, detoxification, anti-inflammation, blood circulator, blood pressure, treatment for cancer, blood pressure and catalyst for metabolic processes.

“It is also acquired the status of a low hanging crop because of its seven Months upwards circle of gestation.”

Itah also said the crisis (war) in Ukraine has made the need for ginger from Nigeria more critical in the international market.

He said the present administration led by Muhammadu Buhari is paying more than a passing concern to the need to diversify the Nigerian economy through non-oil exports – away from over dependence on the existing monolithic economy of oil.  

He stated: “It is in further pursuit of the Government’s economic diversification drive, and in tandem with one of the prime aspects of NEPC’s mandate, that the South-South Regional Office is organizing this capacity building workshop with the theme “Harnessing the Potentials of Ginger for Exports in Rivers State”. The commencement of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement – the largest single trade bloc expected to unite over 2.5Bn people and population within the African market, has further strengthened the imperative to go into Non-oil exports, and ginger provides a competitive edge.”   

He went on: “The overarching objective of the programme is to acquaint ginger farmers and investors with requisite knowledge to penetrate foreign market and compete favourably with their peers from other nations of the World. Today’s event is couched with the focus of maximizing the endowed natural richness of Rivers State soil, and its neighboring lands for the cultivation of ginger for both local consumption and exports.”

He mentioned Rivers and Akwa Ibom as states that have huge potential in the new gold crop and urged their governments to push hard to make ginger farming and processing a new export hub.

Ginger workshop in Port Harcourt

“Let me consider every exporter here as being fortunate because the challenges surrounding issues of market penetration are numerous, quite daunting, and frustrating especially when you are either a budding exporter or an old hand wanting to introduce your product to a new market. A perfect grasp of issues around production/production processes, quality, quantity, market access techniques packaging and labelling, among others, remain necessary bedrocks required in the value-chain to successful export business.

“It is in the bid to harvest all the aforementioned advantages of ginger that we have today assembled experts in crop value-chain development to share practical experiences, offer useful techniques on getting this product ready for local consumption and exports. I charge you all to take advantage of the meaningful discussions that will take place to transformation your involvement in ginger business and exports.”

The state chairman of NGAN, David Buari, a pastor, said the group started two years ago to push for the ginger revolution. He noted that spices are the new economic frontier as they are highly needed across the world.

He said the banking sector did not seem to believe that ginger can do well to export level in the south-south but that they have proved the point that it is hugely possible.

Commending NEPC for solid support, Busari said different machines would be brought in to mechanize the production and processing of ginger into spices, oils and power. He gave many uses and benefits of ginger that seemed to thrill the over 70 participants.

The permanent secretary and acting commissioner in the Ministry of Agriculture, Maurice Ogolo, said the state government was poised to push agriculture as the new plank for job creation. He said the ministry would stand behind NGAN to make ginger a huge export product. 

In a technical paper, Joy Nwaekpe, Principal Research Head/Acting Head of Adopted Village & Outreach School Unit as well as the Value Chain Specialist from the National Root Crops Research Institute in Umudike, Abia State, took the participants through ginger’s entire value chain from land preparation to export.

The CEO of CHC Agric Teck Africa, Rubby Ross, showed the organic production processes of ginger to produce the type that is a hot cake in the international market. Her presentation excited the permanent secretary so much that a demonstration appointment was agreed to enable the state move quickly into organic ginger production.

An engineer from Umudike specializing on processing, Udoka Anosike, took the farmers through the best processes and machines needed to go into standard ginger products. 

The Programme Manager of the Rivers State Agric Development Programme (ADP), Gbule Vitalis Chinedu, gave assurances of the Programme to support the farming of ginger in the state with technical support.

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