Ginger (Zingiber officinale), grown across many climates, is the most popular hot spice in the world. It is unique for its low volume and high value attributes. Ginger is likely to have originated from India, where it is being cultivated in commercial level, and was introduced to Africa (precisely East Africa) in the 16th century. tt is now cultivated throughout the humid tropics including China, Australia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Fiji, Brazil and Mexico. Worldwide, over 25 varieties of ginger are grown and these varieties differ in size of the rhizome, flavour, aroma, colour and fibre content.

The main areas under ginger cultivation globally are Nigeria (56.23%), India (23.6%), China (4.47%), Indonesia (3.37%) and Bangladesh (2.32%). According to the Raw Materials Research and Development Council of Nigeria (RMRDC), Nigeria’s ginger production potential is put at 31 million metric tonnes (MT) while demand is put at 65 million MT, leaving a supply-demand gap of 34 million MT even though the majority of its ginger is exported, which makes Nigeria the second highest exporter of the crop globally (FAO STAT, 2019).

Of the big three producers, only China is a major ginger exporter, contributing by far the majority (61%) of the global ginger exports. Africa produced 856,074 MT of ginger and Nigeria was the major contributor with a production volume that represented 86% of the total production in the whole of Africa
Production and export
Nigeria is the largest producer of ginger in Africa and second largest in the World with a production share of about 16.9% after India (with a production share of 43.8%). Even with its large production, Nigeria is only a small contributor to global ginger exports, at just 3.5% of the total volume in 2019. The country only came onto the world stage for ginger starting in the 1990s, given a strong domestic ginger market. This is similar to India, which accounted for just 3.0% of global ginger exports in 2019, even with its world leading production, because of robust domestic demand.

Of the big three producers, only China is a major ginger exporter, contributing by far the majority of the global total, at 61.0% in 2019, with other Asian countries at 15.9% of global ginger exports. In the year 2020, Africa produced 856,074 MT of ginger and Nigeria was the major contributor with a production volume of 734,295 MT, which was 86% of the total production in the whole of Africa.

Yield per hectare
According to FAO STAT, as of 2021, India produced 1,788,000 tonnes of ginger, which accounts for 43.81% of total World ginger production. Over 164,000 hectares was cultivated with a yield of 109,024 hg/ha. Nigeria ranked second with a production of 691,239 tonnes, which accounts for 16.95% of total World ginger production. Nigeria cultivated over 84,156 hectares with a yield of 82,138 hg/ha. China was the third largest producer with a production of over 55,059 hectares, which accounts for 14.24% of total ginger production in the World where a yield of 105,548 hg/ha was recorded. Among the top three producers of ginger, Nigeria had the lowest yield per hectare.

Three major periods have been outlined for Nigerian ginger production over the past twenty years. The first, from 2000-2006, saw a high area of ginger cultivation, averaging 169,000 hectares (ha), or 51.3% of the global total, but a low yield, at 6,700 hectograms/hectare (hg/ha). The second period ran from 2007-2014, first with a jump in yields to an average 32,000 hg/ha from 2007-2010 and a decline in area harvested, to just 52,200 hectares, or 20.5% of the world total. This was followed by a brief spike in yields to 94,100 hg/ha in 2011 and rise in area harvested to 2013, before a reversion for both closer to 2007-2010 levels. The third period from 2015 saw yields catching up more sustainably to Asian levels, reaching 82,100 hg/ha as of 2019, while area harvested stabilized, and stood at 84,100 ha in 2019, or 21.8% of the World total.

Fossil investments versus agricultural investments
Nigeria’s significant oil resources tends to diminish the focus on some agricultural sectors, including ginger, by government and business, compared to other African countries without similar fossil fuel endowments. This has left significant opportunities where more investment comes into the sector for increasing ginger yields and production, and in particular increasing export market share.

In recent times, the issue of underutilized plant species has become a subject for discussion in international, national and academic circles. These species, including ginger, are of considerable potential benefit to man in agriculture, medicine and industry and have the potential to reduce poverty and alleviate hunger. However, they have not been given the necessary attention in terms of policies and legislation that would address the multifaceted problems hindering their effective use.

Food, fiber, fuel
In Africa, only a few crops are being used as food, fiber and feed. There is a need, therefore, to identify and analyze policies that hinder the utilization of underutilized plant species and to make recommendations that would serve as the basis for policy formulation by the appropriate institutions to promote the value of such crops including ginger, through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA). The Raw Materials Research and Development Council of Nigeria (RMRDC), explained that the Nigerian ginger is rated as one of the best in the international market due to its pungency and high level of oleoresin oil - a highly sought after ingredient. This gives a unique advantage to be exploited to drive foreign exchange earnings and decent livelihoods through ginger value chain development for export promotion.

In 2019, Nigeria’s ginger gross production was valued at USD 246.06 million, placing it in fourth position behind Japan, (in third place with ginger gross production of USD 366.69 million and Indonesia in second place with a gross of USD 204.05 million). The top spot is held by China, with a 4.5% increase from the previous year (grossing USD 1,102.39 million in 2019). Nigeria’s gross ginger production figures reinforce the importance of this sector to the Nigerian economy and explain why ginger is regarded as one of the top (non-oil) export commodities for the country. According to the International Trade Centre’s export potential assessment tool, the potential of Nigerian ginger to the EU/EFTA/UK market is valued at USD 29.9 million, and at USD 70 million when looking at all possible export markets. The percentage of unused potential is about 57%. The demand for Nigerian ginger is about twice what is currently being produced, which emphasize a room for increased production, particularly for export.

Nowadays, with rising health-consciousness, consumers across the globe are preferring nutrition-rich food products, which is providing a boost to the growing popularity of processed ginger. Ginger has several medicinal, industrial, as well as food and culinary uses
Health consciousness
Nowadays, with rising health-consciousness, consumers across the globe are preferring nutrition-rich food products, which is providing a boost to the growing popularity of processed ginger. Ginger has several medicinal, industrial, as well as food and culinary uses. These benefits of ginger are boosting the overall consumption of ginger, which is further fueling growth in the global ginger market. Owing to these factors, the ginger market valuation is expected to reach USD 3.42 Billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 6.6%. According to Expert Market Research, the global ginger market size attained a value of USD 5.78 billion in 2022. The market is projected to grow further at a CAGR of 4.5% to reach a value of USD 7.53 billion within a forecast period of 2023-2028.

Although ginger has a wide range of use including as food for culinary purpose, as medicine for therapeutic properties, and industrial use, there exist a number of gaps in maximizing its potential. These gaps include:
  • lack of quality planting materials
  • high seed rate with low multiplication ratio
  • inadequate technology for production, processing and storage
  • poor market infrastructure
  • inadequate credit facilities
  • neglect by researchers, plant breeders, extension officers, government and agriculturists to improve production and create awareness on utilisation and economic benefits.
In a bid to eliminate these gaps and maximize the potential of ginger in Nigeria, the following recommendations have been put forward for consideration:
  1. government and farmers should partner with National Roots Crop Research Institute of Nigeria (NRCRI), to make available improved and high-yielding varieties of ginger to farmers at subsidized rates

  2. actors should be encouraged to form and/or revive existing ginger marketing associations in order to benefit from group influence and take advantage of economies of scale. In addition, government should provide processing and storage infrastructure and facilitate linkage to finance and credit

  3. regulations for monitoring and enforcement should be strengthened by Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and NACCIMA to ensure good practices and standardization among actors in the ginger value chain

  4. government should explore ways of expanding their market by introducing improved technology and standard procedures to meet export requirements

  5. policies that will encourage ginger production, processing, and marketing should be implemented with particular emphasis on processing.

In conclusion, Nigeria could maximize ginger to position itself in different ways on the domestic (across the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory), regional (through AFCFTA) and European Union markets. On the European Union market, there is scope to expand Nigerias current fresh and dried ginger exports, by focusing among others on quality improvements and meeting the mandatory European Union market requirements, as well as exploring opportunities for certification and gaining access to niche market segments. A specific trend from which Nigeria can benefit especially is the fact that European demand peaks in wintertime, when supply is low and prices are high. Nigeria, being a country with year-round ginger production, can offer a constant supply to meet such demand.