Ginger farmers worried as prices plunge 40pc

- NABIN POUDEL, NAWALPARASI

Dec 23, 2016-

Ginger prices have declined sharply by 40 percent during the peak harvest season causing distress to farmers. 

According to growers, the spicy root now fetches only Rs25 per kg compared to Rs40 per kg last year. Ginger is one of the major sources of income for many farmers in the hilly region of the district.

The ginger produced in Nawalparasi is high in oil content. Farmers have started harvesting their crops but they can’t find buyers. Most of the district’s ginger harvests are exported to India. 

Lack of buyers this year has left farmers at the mercy of middlemen. Farmers said that middlemen had been dictating prices. They said that they were forced to sell the high-value spice at low prices to middlemen as they come to their doors to collect the harvests and export them to India. Jaubari, Arkhala, Bharatipur, Mithukaram, Ruchang, Rakuwa, Bulingtar, Ratanpur, Hupsikot, Dhurkot and Dhaubhadi are the key ginger producing village development committees in the district. Ginger is grown on 1,300 hectares in the district.  

Shrikanta Ghimire, an official of the District Agriculture Office, said that the district’s ginger output was projected to reach 11,500 tonnes this year. He said that farmers who sold their crops at Rs40 per kg last year were being forced to sell them at Rs25 per kg this year. 

“A few months ago, India had restricted entry to Nepali ginger citing pesticide contamination,” Ghimire said. “Now middlemen are reaping the benefits saying that their crops cannot be exported.” 

Farmers said that fluctuating ginger prices had forced them to think twice before planting it. The ginger produced in the highlands of Nawalparasi are organic, said Ghimire. “If the quality is assured by having it certified by a test lab, there is huge potential for exporting it to third countries directly.” 

Globally, Nepal is the third largest ginger producer after China and India. In 2012-13, Nepal’s total ginger production reached 235,000 tonnes, out of which about 60 percent was exported. India is the main export market for Nepali ginger. The southern neighbour buys close to 94 percent of Nepal’s fresh ginger and 6 percent of processed ginger.

According to Nepal Ginger Profile 2016, which was produced jointly by UK Aid-funded Samarth-Nepal Market Development Programme and the Nepal Ginger Producers and Traders Association, the spice has a huge overseas trading potential if substantial improvements can be made in yield, quality and volume by investing more on research and development.

Even without a substantial improvement in quality, small trading hubs in India will continue to be major markets for local ginger, said the research report.

Published: 23-12-2016 09:36

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