Jamaica could meet global demand for its ginger by 2019
LOCAL farmers could meet the global demand for Jamaican ginger by 2019, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
Ginger output is on target to near-double this year should the 320 hectares (790 acres) under production yield the expected 3,000 metric tons (tonnes).
That's more than five times the 460 tonnes produced in 2009. But the long-term demand for Jamaican ginger globally is estimated to be 21,000 tonnes, or five per cent of total world demand for the root.
Meeting demand will require another 1,460 hectares to be put into production.
"Once the farmers continue to embrace the best practices, and there is sufficient buy-in from the market," the country could meet that demand "in five years", said Byron Henry, general manager of the Export Division at the Ministry of Agriculture.
To make that happen the Agriculture Ministry has launched a number of initiatives aimed at helping farmers with technical, financial and market support, by offering training, interest-free loans and by purchasing the product at the end of the crop.
During 2013 alone, the ministry increased its financial contribution to the industry from $31 million in 2012 to $114 million, of which $40 million was provided to 502 farmers as interest-free loan to cultivate 445 hectares of ginger.
Jamaica's ginger production fell to an all-time low in the early 1990s, having been impacted by the rhizome rot and bacterial wilt diseases, which effectively rendered the country as a net importer of the product.
Now, Jamaica exports around 20 tonnes more than it imports.
A number of local importers of ginger have opted to use the local product, as a result in the upturn in production.
Henry said that it is now more economically feasible to use local ginger than imported ginger. For instance, importing the powder cost over $1,000 per kilogram, while locally produced ginger powder currently cost about $813 per kg.