Himachal eyeing to market ginger through Safal outlets

With the bumper production of 16,650 metric tonne during 2020 in Himachal Pradesh’s leading ginger-producing Sirmaur district, the state government is eyeing to market it in the National Capital Region (NCR) through Mother Dairy’s Safal outlets, state Agriculture Minister Virender Kanwar said on Sunday.

Also the government is exploring to market the cash crop in metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru to enable farmers to get remunerative returns.

Himgiri and local varieties of ginger are cultivated in 1,500 hectares in the district that is also known the hub of garlic.

“We are aiming to double the production of ginger in five-six years that will help farmers doubling their income,” Kanwar told IANS.

He said the benefit of ginger amidst Covid-19 pandemic to boost immunity has increased its demand, with prices in wholesale and retail markets increasing rapidly last year.

The minister said the Central government’s One District One Product initiative that aims to convert each district into an export hub will turn a boom for the ginger growers of Sirmaur, who are seeking global recognition for indigenous cultivars varieties.

The ginger belts are in Nahan, Paonta Sahib, Pachhad, Rajgarh, Sangrah and Shillai areas. Around 55 per cent of the total ginger plantation is in Paonta Sahib and Sangrah tehsils.

Rakesh Sharma, a ginger farmer near Nahan town, said the weather is congenial for the crop throughout the season.

“Owing to its bumper production, it was sold between Rs 20 and Rs 30 a kg in the wholesale market and this was not the proper price for the produce,” he said.

“If the crop finds a regular market in south Indian cities with the government’s intervention, the farmers will definitely get remunerative returns,” he added.

According to Sharma, the growers used to sell the crop in nearby markets like Chandigarh, Dehradun and Delhi.

Nearly 6,000 farmers, many of them with small landholdings, are involved in the cultivation of ginger in Sirmaur.

It grows in the warm and humid climate with a varying degree of altitude. The elevation above 1,500 metres is found to be more suitable.

As per the Agriculture Department, against the cost of cultivating ginger at Rs 360,620 per hectare, the net is Rs 706,880 per hectare.

Last year the department procured about 800 quintals ginger seed from farmers at Rs 100 per kg. It is providing a subsidy of Rs 16 per kg to the farmers on purchase of its seed.

Responding to the demand to set up ginger processing centres, Kanwar said the government would soon provide a framework for value chain development to enable the farmers to get remunerative prices.

However, farmers have demanded that ginger powder they are producing must get protection through GI (geographical indications) tag like turmeric.

In a letter to the C.S.K. Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University Vice Chancellor, Hati Farmers Union convener Kundan Singh told IANS the ginger powder of the Bella Valley in Shillai subdivision of Sirmaur required GI tag as it has huge market due to its special extraction technique that has been traditionally preserved for centuries.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)