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GINGER (Zingiber officinale)

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Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant which belongs to the order Scitamineae and family Zingiberaceae. It is a tropical monocotyledonous and an herbaceous perennial plant which produces annual stems. The plant produces erect, tall and dark green shoot (pseudo stems) which measures about 30-100cm  above the ground with long, narrow, ribbed green leaves which are 5-25 cm long and 1-3cm wide. It produces clusters of white and pink flower buds which bloom into white or yellowish-green flower. Ginger plant is mainly grown for its roots (which are known as rhizomes) popularly called ginger. Ginger is the underground root of the ginger plant with a firm striated texture. It has a brownish skin which could be either thin or thick depending on when it is harvested.  The ginger flesh is most times yellow in color and is some cases white or red. It is widely used as a spice or herbal medicine because of its aromatic, pungent and hot taste. Ginger can be used fresh in dishes or in its processed forms such as dry ginger rhizomes, powder ginger, pickled ginger, ginger crystals and ginger paste. Ginger is also an important export crop valued for its powder, oil and oleoresin.



Ginger plant originated from south eastern Asia. It is indigenous to south China and has since spread to other parts of Asia, subsequently West Africa and the Caribbean. Ginger was exported to the Europe through India but this made it an expensive spice in that area since it was imported from Asia. Therefore the Spanish explorers introduced ginger plant to areas like the West Indies, Mexico and South America. In 1585, Jamaican ginger was the first spice to be imported back to Europe. India is now the world’s largest producers of ginger, beating China which comes second. In Africa, Nigeria is the largest producers of ginger and fourth largest producers of ginger in the world. Its cultivation in Nigeria commenced in 1927 in southern Zaria, Jemma Federated district and neighboring part of Plateau but today, ginger is cultivated nationwide. It is important to know that India and Jamaica produces the best ginger.



Ginger has several varieties grown in different growing areas and are generally named according to their localities where they are grown. Some of the varieties are grouped into the following:

  • High dry ginger which includes Maran, Nadia, Karakkal, Manantoddy, Valluvanad.

  • Green ginger which includes Rio-de-janeiro, Wynad local, China, Tafengiya and Varadha.

  • High volatile oil which includes Sleeve Local, Himachal, Narasapatlam, etc.

  • High oleoresin; which includes Ernad, Chernad, China, Rio-de-janeiro, etc.

  • Low fiber content; which includes Jamaica, Bangkok and China.

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Ginger is propagated vegetatively using its rhizomes. It requires a warm and humid climate with rainfall of about 1500mm per annum with a short dry season around harvesting time. It requires altitudes ranging from 0-800 meters above sea level. Ginger is very adaptable to a wide variety of soil types. It thrives well on sandy or clayey loam, red loam or laterite loam with good drainage and humus content but the ideal soil type for growing ginger is a sandy loam soil. Ginger does the best in partial to complete shade but can also produce good yield in open fields. When the under rainfed condition, rhizomes are planted on beds but if under irrigation system, rhizomes are planted in ridges. Planting is done between mid-april to May. The planting material is first treated with fungicide and insecticide to avoid seed borne diseases and scales. After planting, the beds are mulched with green leaves thrice at intervals of one month. The procedures for cultivation are explained below:

  1. Site selection: a good site should be properly selected before commencing the planting of ginger. The site must be free from stomps. It should have good irrigation system (if not rain-fed) and a well-drained soil.

  2. Land preparation: To produce high yield of ginger the soil should be loose and friable. The land should be ploughed or dug thoroughly using a hoe or a plough to bring the soil to fine tilt, if possible harrowing can also be done afterwards; without such soil improvement the crop will fail to produce rhizomes of good shapes. Raised beds of about 15m-30m high, 1m width and any convenient length are prepared with an interspace of 50 cm between beds. In area prone to rhizome rot, solarization can be done using a polythene bag for 40 days. Solarization is the technique by which moist bed in the field are completely covered with polythene sheet and exposed to the sun for a period of time. The polythene sheet used for solarization should be kept away safely after the work is completed.

  3. Planting: the planting material used in ginger cultivation is a seed rhizome. The seed rhizome used should be a carefully preserved rhizome free from pest and diseases. They are cut into small pieces of 2.5cm to 5.0cm and weigh about 25g with one or two good buds. The seed rate varies from region to region but the ideal seed rate is 1250 kg/ha. It is advised not to treat rhizomes with any chemical.

  4. Water supply/Irrigation in ginger cultivation: ginger is cultivated as rainfed crops in areas with high rainfall and as irrigated ginger crop in areas with less rainfall. The irrigated ginger crop is watered immediately after planting. Proper drainage channels are to be provided in between rows to drain off excess water. The crop is watered at varying intervals between five to ten days as and when required.

  5. Manure application: ginger plant require large quantity and good quality manure in order to produce the desirable yield. Well rotten cowdung or compost are applied. Also, the application of neem cake at the time of planting to help prevent the incidence of rhizome rot disease/nematode.

  6. Mulching:  this should be done after planting especially ginger plant that is rain-fed. The beds are covered with green leaf or organic waste. This is done to protect the soil against the sun, prevent soil splashing and erosion due to heavy rains. It is also used to check weed emergence, conserve moisture during the latter drier cropping season and adds nutrients to the soil upon decomposition.

  7. Weed control: weeding should be done with the use of a hoe. Two or more weeding may be needed depending on the intensity of weed growth. The first weeding should be done just before the second mulching (6-8 weeks) after planting. The weeded material may be used for mulching if needed.

  8. Pest and disease: the occurrence of pest and disease in the ginger and their control measures at different production stages will be discussed below.


Pest of Ginger plant

  • Shoot borer (Conogethes punctiferalis): The larvae bore the pseudo stem, thus resulting into yellowing and drying of shoot. To control this pest, spray Nimbecidine (2-5 ml/l) or Beauveria bassiana at 2-5 ml/l

  • Rhizome scale (Aspidiella hartii): Adult (female) scales are circular (about 1 mm diameter) and light brown to grey and appear as encrustations on the rhizomes. They feed on sap and when the rhizomes are severely infested, they become shriveled and desiccated affecting its germination. The rhizome scale can be managed by timely harvest, discarding severely infested rhizomes, and treating the seed rhizomes with quinalphos (0.075%) (For 20-30 minutes) before storage and also before sowing in case the infestation persists.

  • White grub (Holotrichia spp): it is a sporadic pest which sometimes causes serious damage. The white grub feeds on the roots and newly formed rhizomes. The entomophagous fungus, Metarrhizium anisophilae can be mixed with fine cow dung and then applied in the field to control the grubs. In endemic areas, soil application of neem cake at 40 kg/ha before sowing can be done to control this pest.

  • Shoot boring weevil (Prodioctes haematicus)


Diseases of Ginger plant

Ginger rhizome rot (Fusarium spp., Pythium spp., Rosellinia spp.): it is a disease caused by fungi. The disease occurs mostly in warm, moist soils and is spread primarily through the use of infected seed which may not show any outward sign. The symptoms of the disease include: stunted growth, yellow leaves and stems, rotting of root system, brown discoloration of xylem tissues, rotted rhizome which gives off a foul smell.

Management of ginger rhizome rot

Seed rhizome which shows symptoms of disease should not be planted. Plant ginger in a well-drained soil or on hills created by tilling. Seed can be treated with hot water (50°C/122°F for 10 min) or appropriate fungicides prior to planting; keep fields free from weed; destroy all crop debris after harvest.


  • Soft rot (Pythium aphanidermatum): this is a serious disease which spreads rapidly during the rainy season. It is a seed borne disease as well as soil borne disease. It causes yellowing of leaves, rotten root and show brown discoloration of the rhizome tissue the rhizome tissue. Sometimes the pseudo stem comes off easily with a gentle pull. The rotten parts attract other fungi, bacteria and insects particularly the rhizome fly. Management: Avoid water logging. At the time of sowing, treat the rhizome with Bordeaux mixture (1%) and again with Trichoderma @8-10-gm/litre water. Remove the badly affected plants and drench around the infected plants, after slightly removing of soil with Bordeaux mixture (1%) or copper oxychloride @ 2g/1 liters of water.

  • Bacteria wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum):  It is the most serious disease and the symptoms can be noticed from July-August. The leaf margins of the affected plant turn bronze and curl backward. The whole plants wilt and die. The base of the infected pseudo stem and the rhizome emit foul smell. When the suspected pseudo stem is cut and immersed in a glass of clean water, milky exudates will ooze out from the cut end. Typical symptom is the wilting observed during afternoon in young seedlings. Management: Seed contamination is the major source of infection. Hence, procure only healthy rhizome from disease free area. Treat the seed with Streptocycline (20g/100 liter water). Remove the affected clumps and drench the soil with copper oxychloride 0.2%.


  • Leaf spot (Phyllosticta zingiberi): Small spindle to oval spots appear on younger leaves. The spots have white papery centers and dark brown margins surrounded by yellowish halos. The spot later increase in size and coalesce to form larger spots which eventually decrease the photosynthetic area. In the case of severe infection the entire leaves dry up. Management: Spray Bordeaux mixture (1%) 3-4 times at 15 days interval with the initiation of the disease. Good control is achieved by growing the crop under partial shade. Others include:

  • Anthracnose Leaf spot (Colletotrichum capsici)

  • Thread blight (Pellicularia spp.)


Harvesting of ginger

Ginger can be harvested based on demand and end use of the ginger. However, ginger attains full maturity when the leaves turn yellow and start to dry at about 7 months to 10 months after planting. If the ginger is required for fresh vegetable purpose it can be harvested earlier at about 6 months after planting, if required for making dry ginger it should be harvested when fully mature and for maximum oil and oleoresin contents it should be harvested at about 8-9 months. Irrigation should stop one month prior harvesting. Harvesting can be done with the use of spade or digging fork. In large scale farming, tractors can be used for harvesting.


Storage of ginger

Fully dried ginger can be stored in airtight container or high density polythene bags in a temperature of 10-15°C. This helps to prevent damage from cigarette beetle. Fresh ginger should be stored in cold (10-12ºC) and high humid environment in freezer, if unpeeled. For seed material, big and healthy rhizomes should be selected from disease-free ginger plant immediately after harvest and stored in pits of convenient size made in shade to protect from sun and rain. Walls of the pits may be coated with cow dung. Seed rhizomes are stored in pits in layers along with well-dried saw dust.


Uses of Ginger

    Ginger has a lot of uses, a few of them include:

  1. Culinary use: ginger is one of the major spices used in cooking.

  2. Manufacturing purpose: It is used in manufacturing, to make products like;

  • confectionaries (candies and sweets).

  • Soft drink and alcoholic beverage.

  • It serves as flavoring agent in baking products like ginger bread, cakes and biscuits.

  • It is used as fragrance for soaps and cosmetics.

    3. Medicinal purposes: ginger has several medicinal properties which include:

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Antifungal

  • Anti-vomiting

  • Analgesic

  • Anti-ulcer

  • It is used to treat cold induced diseases such as asthma, cough, rheumatism etc.

  • Lowers cholesterol level by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the blood and liver.

  • Gastrointestinal relief

  • Protection against colorectal cancer

  • It induces cell death in ovarian cancer cells

  • It serves as immune booster

Ginger is generally used to treat various stomach problems including upset stomach, gas, colic, nausea, morning sickness, motion sickness, vomiting after surgery and loss of appetite.


Economic Importance of Ginger

Nigeria is currently one of the main producers of ginger in the world and the major producers in Africa. With its annual world production surpassing 1.5 million tons and because of the several forms in which it’s traded, Ginger is now one of the most important trade commodities in the world. Its medicinal, culinary and cosmetic uses cannot be overemphasized as well as its following economic importance which the Nigerian government should consider harnessing in full:

  1. As a Cash Crop:  It is an important cash crop grown in Nigeria for its aromatic rhizome.

  2. Source of Foreign Exchange: It is exported to other countries which gives valuable foreign exchange.

  3. Raw Material: It is used in industries as raw materials for making drinks, confectionaries, etc.

  4. Medicinal uses: It is used in pharmaceuticals for the production of important medicines and cosmetics.

  5. As a spice and Home Remedy: ginger is one of the most widely used spices for cooking in every home and it is used for home remedies to treat various alimentary, muscle and respiratory ailments.

  6. Source of income and revenue: ginger can be cultivated anytime of the year and anywhere whether inside or outside. It is a very versatile crop and can be cultivated 3-5 months after it was planted. Therefore is a good source of revenue as it also has a short turnover period.  



  • Anandaraj, M., Devasahayam, S., Zachariah, T.J., Eapen, S.J., Sasikumar, B., and Thankamani, C.K. 2001. Ginger (Extension Pamphlet). J. Rema and M.S. Madan, Editors. Indian Institute of Spices Research, Calicut, Kerala



  • Jayashree E, Kandiannan K, Prasath D, Rashid Pervez, Sasikumar B, Senthil Kumar CM, Srinivasan V, Suseela Bhai R and Thankamani CK (August 2014). Ginger (Extension pamphlet). ICAR-Indian Institute of Spices Research, Kozhikode


  • Rural agriculture development authority (RADA).2013. Growing ginger in Jamaica.

  • George Mateljan. The world&-8217;s healthiest foods.



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