Ginger acreage shrinks with prices in free fall

The price of the spicy root has plunged to Rs25 per kg from up to Rs190 per kg two years ago

Jan 15, 2018-With ginger prices in free fall for the last two years, farmers in the district have been complaining that they are not even breaking even. They said they would have a hard time recouping their investment this year.

The price of the spicy root has plunged to Rs25 per kg from up to Rs190 per kg two years ago. Worried ginger growers have decreased their acreage, and production has fallen as a result.

According to the Agricultural Development Office (ADO), 4,066 tonnes of ginger was produced on 255 hectares of land in the last fiscal year 2016-17. Output has fallen to 3,903 tonnes, and acreage has shrunk 235 hectares this fiscal year.

Farmer Man Bahadur Rai of Akhisalla in Sahidbhumi Rural Municipality 6 said the price of ginger had dipped to Rs25 per kg when it hovered at Rs190 two years ago. He has stored 1,200 kg of fresh ginger on his farm hoping prices will rise. He plans to sell his harvest when he can get a better price.

“This is too much. We cannot even recoup our investment. I have stored my ginger harvest underground so I can sell it when the price goes up,” Rai said.

Likewise, Hukum Chandra Rai of Thalthale has planted ginger on only 0.2 hectare compared to 1 hectare three years ago because of the low prices. Another farmer Chongla Prasad Rai of Ukhisalla said that he had been cultivating ginger for the last two decades. His annual output has dropped from 1,700 kg to around 800 kg. 

More than 80 percent of the farmers in various parts of the district like Khoku, Chintang, Okhisalla and Ahale grow ginger. They will sell their traditionally stored ginger once prices increase, they said.

According to the ADO, ginger prices have plunged as exports to India have slowed because of surplus production there. Middlemen based in the border areas of Nepal and India have not been approaching ginger growers as demand has been decreasing year after year. 

Unnati--Inclusive Growth Programme in Nepal, a project launched by the International Labor Organization and the Danish government to promote good governance in the value chains of tea, cardamom, milk and ginger in seven districts including Dhankuta, said that it had disbursed Rs1 million in the district for the fiscal year 2017-18. 

Funds were distributed through seven agricultural cooperatives with the aim of producing better quality ginger. In Dhankuta Municipality-7, the project disbursed Rs217,000 to Sunaulo Agricultural Cooperative, Rs163,000 to Nawapaluwa Chintang Cooperative, Rs196,000 to Sasaswati Ahale and Rs187,000 each to Sagurigadhi Gaunagar, Namuna Mahila Chintang and Samyukta Gibikoparjan Group Chungwang cooperatives. 

Similarly, the project provided Rs1.1 million each to Samyukta Agricultural Cooperative Office Maunabudhuk and Mahila Cooperative Group Paripatle to build a ginger collection centre. 

Agriculture expert Laxman Acharya of the Unnati project’s branch office in Dhankuta said that Rs1.6 million each had been issued to the two cooperatives to procure ginger fertiliser, produce dry ginger, increase ginger production and purchase tiller machines.

Farmers have complained that despite the investment to promote ginger production, stored ginger is rotting due to lack of market and low prices.

Published: 15-01-2018 08:41

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