Ginger: the spicy cultigen
Ginger: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this fragrant spice? One of the oldest spices known to man and used in different ways throughout the world, your ginger ‘preference’ – a drink, a cooked dish, baked goods, a snack, perhaps a medicine – will give a good indication of where in the world you come from.
Ginger’s been cultivated by humans for so long that, like staple crops such as wheat and maize, it’s become what’s known as a ‘cultigen’: a plant that’s been bred and domesticated into a form that doesn’t exist in the wild. And while ginger is still a relatively minor crop – annual production tops out at about 4.3 million tonnes – it’s considerably more plentiful than pepper, at around 750,000 tonnes, often said to be the world’s most popular spice.
What’s FertiGlobal’s interest in it? Well, most of the ginger grown in the world today – around 4.3 million tonnes – is grown in India. We’ve talked before about our fascination with this important agricultural country. Ginger’s just one of the many crops that contributes to India’s agricultural diversity and, with many of India’s farmers moving beyond the traditional ‘homestead’ farming practices, there’s a real appetite for adopting new and more productive practices.
Overhauling ginger’s agronomy is one such example. But we also like to demonstrate how, through our growing global network of partners and distributors, FertiGlobal is developing solutions and sharing knowledge about all crops, not just the half dozen or so that usually attract most of the attention.
Ginger’s also a great example of our total crop management approach: how we think about every crop throughout its lifecycle. With a preference for a warm and humid climate, ginger can be particularly susceptible to fungal diseases. But, as we know, a plant that has satisfied its nutritional requirements will be better placed to stimulate its own natural defence processes: in other words, a healthy plant will stay healthy.
For example, current agronomic practices in India often encourage use of toxic chemicals whose use in the EU is now banned, such as mancozeb; severely restricted, such as malathion; or which have never been licensed, such as the antibiotic streptocycline. While little of India’s ginger production ends up on the world market – despite being the largest producer, it’s only the seventh-largest exporter – if India is to realise its ambition to compete in agricultural markets worldwide, its farmers must abstain from using such outdated crop protection solutions.
That’s why, in conjunction with SCL Commercial India, we undertook trials last year to examine the effectiveness of Dinamico+Nixi on ginger. Good leaf growth, strong vigour, healthy leaves and improved productivity were the results – and all without using dangerous chemicals that pose risks to farmers, consumers and the soil itself.
It’s another great example of the FertiGlobal difference.