Research on Ginger in Meghalaya

Report on the field study of Ginger and Turmeric in Meghalaya PREFACE Meghalaya is a state which is rich in natural resources, be it from flora to fauna to the mineral resources, the state has it in abundance. Agriculture, including crop and animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and agro processing constitutes the very basis of socio economic lives of India. One of the major activities in the state is cultivation of horticulture crops which includes that of Ginger and Turmeric.

Ginger is being predominantly grown in Ri Bhoi District while almost the whole belt of Jaintia Hills, the best quality of Turmeric found in the whole country with the reported cucurmin content up to 7. 6%. However amidst plenty of what we have, there are too many missing links in between for the state to realize the full potential in terms of commercial activities in revenues and most importantly to address the issues of the farmers to increase the income for better livelihoods in the villages.

Therefore the market access team from MBDA along with the staffs of Appropriate Technology India (ATI) made a visit to some of the important cultivation belt of ginger and turmeric of Ri Bhoi District and West Jaintia Hills District for assessment of production which includes cultivation practices as well as understanding the organic practices for the potential of organic certification for premium pricing of the products, post harvesting and processing aspects as well as marketing aspects for improving livelihood security in the state.

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These villages are located within the distance of 1 to 3 kilometers from Umsning. The farmers start sowing ginger from the last week of April throughout the month of May. We came to know that they inherited the ginger cultivation practices from their fore fathers seeing that the climate is conducive for the crop to thrive and that there is a market for all of their produce from year to year. The main area of concern for them is that, the plant is frequently getting infected with root and stem rotting, thus spoiling their effort in time and money.

Stem rot is more frequent than root rot and occurs in between the months of June to September. They don’t have any solution to tackle these kind of infections, the only activity that they do is to uproot the whole crop and throw it as far as possible from the cultivation land and sometimes even burning that particular crop but it seldom help the cause as the infection will start to spread to the whole row and even at times the whole field. They practiced Jhum cultivation with the belief that it softens the soil and helps in the ploughing activity.

They also have a fair idea of the reason behind crop rotation and practiced it once in 3 years. They do give manure to the crop once in a while in the form of poultry, pig and cow droppings. They said that they have received training from the horticulture officers but most of the time they apply those methods being taught to them in the beginning phase but revert back to their traditional method of cultivation. They stored the seed in a proper way and have no problem with the occurrence of seed spoilage before the cultivation period.

The nearest market for them is the Umsning market which is being held once a week. At the weekly market, traders which are middle men come to purchase their crop at rates of 1,100 – 1,200 rupees per 40 kgs which is a standard unit of weight being applied in terms of ginger and turmeric in the whole area. However, when they feel that a better price is available at Iewduh market in Shillong or when there is a need to go Shillong for personal work, they carry along the ginger which fetched them a price of around 1,500 – 1,600 per 40 kgs.

From there the team moved to Sohpdok village which is approximately 5 kms from Umsning. Here we interacted with the headman of the village and around 15 farmers in the processing unit which is next to the SSA school premises and found out that the ginger cultivation was enlarge by the intervention and help of RRTC, Umran. There are 3 driers, 2 slicers and 1 pulveriser at the processing unit which is not yet functional as they have just received the machines from North Eastern Hill University.

The problems and practices regarding the cultivation practices are the same as the ones which have been described above. However, the people said that they rate of ginger that they sell at the village when traders come to collect from the village is around 900 – 1,000 rupees per 40 kgs. The last visit for the day was at Regional Resource Training Centre (RRTC) Umran, which is run by the Catholic Church and presently headed by Father James.

The center spans around 400 acres campus and facilitates in imparting training to various livelihood and entrepreneurship program and one of the main activities is the food processing centre which includes turmeric and ginger processing. The ginger after undergoing a series of treatment which includes peeling, trimming, weighing, washing, and processing by boiling with citric acid is then mildly dried and mixed with fine sugar in specific proportions and then properly dried and added with sugar to add as topping. It is then packed and labeled as Ginger Candy.

The ginger candy is retailed at an MRP of 35 rupees for 100gms. When asked about the costing, the staff who is taking care of the processing unit said that the whole cost of labour and various activities from start to finish is around 120 – 150 rupees/kg, while the retail cost is 350 rupees/kg thus making a profit of 200 rupees/kg. The ginger is also converted into powder form firstly dipping the dried ginger in Sodium Carbonate solution to increase the shelf life of the product and then grind to powder and packed.

The same goes for turmeric which is simply grind into powder form and retailed at the stores. Their main area of concern is marketing, which they say they have a limited penetration to the market through their retail outlet next to the national highway and some retail shops in and around Shillong. 13th February 2013 The team left for Nongpoh and along with the existing ERPs of MBDA went to Umkon village which is 23 kms away from it. Here we interacted with just around 5 farmers as there is a funeral in the village. Almost each and every ousehold practice ginger cultivation in large scale and turmeric cultivation for their own consumption on a lower scale. Almost all of the households exceed 500 kgs of ginger production in a year with some of them going up to 3 or 4 tonnes. The main market is at Umden in which the price of the ginger is around 1,000 rupees/40 kgs while the seed is being sold at 35 rupees/kg. The seed is being sold among the farmers from nearby areas and new farmers while the raw ginger is being bought by middlemen and commission agents who then supply either to Guwahati or Kolkata directly.

The main areas of concern for the farmers is again the same issue of their inability and lack of knowledge how to tackle diseases such as stem and root rot. However, they shared their success story of how ginger cultivation has improved the general living conditions in and around the area. There is no value added activity for the ginger being produced in the area. Then at around 4 pm we left for Byrnihat to visit the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd (NERAMAC).

There is a processing plant to extract ginger oil from fresh or raw ginger. The plant capacity is around 3 to 5 tonnes per day, yielding 1. 5 liters of oil which retails at 7000 – 9000 rupees/liter. The major problem that they are facing is the availability of raw ginger as most of the ginger which is produced within the region is being sold to middlemen at a higher rate. 14th February 2013 The team left Shillong at around 8 AM for the turmeric belt of West Jaintia Hills District.

We stationed at CTC hotel and then under the supervision of Mr Lyngdoh, a horticulture officer with the Govt. of Meghalaya, proceeded to Wahiajer village where we interacted with 2 farmers, one farmer just started the ginger cultivation activity since he saw that there is a market and the soil is very good for ginger to grow, so keeping in mind of the above factors he started cultivating ginger and after harvesting the produce, decided not to sell any of it but to keep it as seed for the next year.

When we arrived there we interacted with him and asked him to show us the place where the seed is being store and when he dug up some of the seed, even though the ginger quality and size is good, it was found that the whole ginger is moist and wet and infected with fungus, budding has also begun to take place. He said that he has received no training on how to cultivate, harvest and store the ginger so he is not aware of what procedures and process to follow.

Then we told him to take out the whole lot of ginger stored there and to dry it in the shade and treat it with organic chemicals which might be available at the horticulture office in the block. Being a starter in the activity he is unaware of the whole system, except the price that he might get if he is to sell the product at the local market. He also practices slash and burn cultivation like the rest of the farmers are doing in the whole area.

We then met with another farmer who has been practicing the ginger cultivation activity for quite some years but he confessed that he is quite disheartened with the activity as there is no help from the government side in monetary terms nor in training facilities, so he is contemplating of shifting his cultivation activity from ginger to that of tomato as there is a better market currently prevailing in the whole area. The horticulture department is also neglecting the ginger farmers in the area while promoting that of the tomato.

We then proceed to Laskein grinding and processing centre which has a Federation comprising of 9 clusters, 30 villages and around 100 SHGs. The Unit was set up in 2007 with the objective of improving livelihood and income within the area. The processing unit was set up with the help of MRDS which also helps in the training of man power as well as marketing activities. The unit is well equipped with Dryers, Slicers, Pulverisers and for the first time this year an Oil extractor machine is being set up which will be functional from this year onwards, the staffs also are yet to get training how to utilize the machine.

The steps in the processing of ginger in the unit here are as follows: WASHING BOILING SLICING DRYING GRINDING PACKAGING The production of turmeric powder last year was around 3 tonnes and this year they aimed at a higher quantity. Each and every cluster of villages which falls under the association have a commitment to bring the produce of raw turmeric to the processing centre and the Federation buys it at a rate of 30 rupees/kg, when the turmeric is being sold in powder form at 250 rupees/kg as of last year, 230 rupees is being given back to the farmer and 20 rupees is being kept by the federation.

The packaging is done in quantities of 1/4th kg, ? kg and 1 kg for the local market while it is packed in gunny bags of 40 kgs each for the lot which is supposed to be transported to Guwahati. 15th February 2013 The team accompanied by Mr Remi from MRDS went to Umsalait village which falls under Iakitlang cluster, comprising of two villages, Umsalait and Umsaroo which has 245 and 70 households respectively. There are 6 SHGs in the cluster, out of which 5 groups consist of women and 1 group that of men.

The team interacted with around 30 farmers and learnt that they have been practicing the cultivation of turmeric from generation which they inherited from their forefathers but increased the activity to a larger scale as soon as they see that there is a market and it contributes to the generation of income activity. The problems faced by the farmers are almost the same throughout the state in which the major issues are that of diseases and not knowing how to tackle them.

They are quite grateful to MRDS which helped them in imparting knowledge and funds even if it’s in small mount, the intervention has helped them to increase their income for a better living conditions. 16th February 2013 The team visited Mr W. Nongspung processing centre situated at Laitkor which is roughly 12 kms from Shillong. Mr Nongspung took advantage of the PMEGP scheme from DIC, Shillong and set up his processing centre there.

However, fewer spices products are being processed at his unit since he only supply dry turmeric to a company in Guwahati known as Amalgamated Plantations, located at Christian Basti on a commission basis. His commission stands at 20 rupees/kg. He supplies around 30 tonnes of dry turmeric in a year and the company financed the money entirely in advance. Owing to this, he processed dry turmeric at a very less amount. He then started processing fruit juices such as star fruit, cherry as well as pickling of ginger, radish, chillies and bamboo shoots.

His products have Organic tags along with them, while there is no proof of paper work that his products are organic certified. He sources the packaging materials from Industrial estate in Guwahati and get the label locally printed in Shillong. According to him, the major difficulty he is facing is that he doesn’t know how to market his products in a big way and he has no idea about branding at all OBSERVATIONS Below are the few parameters of observation prevailing in the production areas where the team has visited a) AREA AND PRODUCTION

Most of the households in the villages which fall under the area that we have visited do not have a fair idea of the size of their respective plot under ginger and turmeric cultivation. From the conversation that we had we could make out that the minimum area of cultivation per family is around 1 acre up to 4 to 5 hectares. As far as production is concerned, the quantity that each household produces ranges from 750 kg to 5 tonnes. b) LAND USE The land that is used is normally rotational and at times shifting and bun cultivation is a normal practice which is traditional in nature.

The area to be cultivated is first covered with the soil on top of the leaves and then slowly burned and often left overnight so as to soften the soil in the ploughing process thus easing the tilling process. This practice also helps in sterilization of the soil. The agricultural land is mostly owned and controlled by individual farmers and some of them have been leased by people who are not engaged in agricultural activities who are mostly traders or government servants or who have migrated from the village on a nominal fee or in exchange for the products the cultivate. ) LAND PREPARATION Ginger and turmeric is normally cultivated in slopes and terrains under the shade of some trees. The land is normally not ploughed but just holed and dug up to 6 to 7 inches for the seed to be buried inside. Very few farmers added manure of animal dung to the crop while the rest just leave it as it is. There are no proper irrigation facilities to retain the water content during the rainy season, thus leaving the crop to absorb as much water as ossible during the rainy season and dried throughout the rest of the months. d) SELECTION OF SEED After the harvest is done, rhizomes which are large, healthy, free from any injury spots and more buds are selected to be stored as seed. The seeds in the case of turmeric are simply stored under the shade above the ground and normally very few infections would occur on turmeric seed, whereas in the case of ginger it is more complicated as the seed is normally infected with fungus and budding usually takes place before the sowing season.

The method of storage is traditional in practice as the seed is stored under a pit dug below the ground and simply covered with a thin layer of soil thus attracting moisture and fungus to infect the seed. There are many cases in which farmers have complained that the seed gets spoiled before the sowing season starts. e) PLANTING Planting is usually done in the month of April to May just at the start of the rain. The rhizomes are planted in about 6 inches apart from each other and 6 to 8 inches deep and then covered with soil. During plantation the rhizomes are broken and make sure that they at least have 4 to 6 budding sprouts.

The turmeric and ginger is normally cultivated along some other vegetables in the field such as beans, maize and pumpkin. f) HARVEST The harvest is done in when the crop attains maturity, the sign given by the death of the stem and leaves. It usually starts from early November and goes till the end of January. The seed is normally left till end of February to attain maximum maturity. Farmers also sometimes look at the market demand and when they know that there is a demand for the product in the market, they normally harvest the crop as and when required. ) MARKETING The marketing of ginger and turmeric usually happens in weekly local markets which are near to the villages and sometimes at Iewduh, in Shillong. Commission agents, middle men and traders purchase the products at a wholesale rate from local markets and then sort out and grade the lot according to the quality and packed them in gunny bags to be transported outside the state. In case of turmeric, trade happens mostly as a dry material in the form of slices or in powder, whereas in case of ginger trade happens at the raw or fresh ginger state.

Thus we can see that the middlemen control the market of ginger and turmeric in the whole state. h) COSTING 1) Cultivation-(umsalait) For 1 hectare land, they need around 10 people for 60 days and labour cost is Rs 200/day. (a) Labour 10 x 60 = 600 (b) Labour Cost 600 x 200 = Rs 1,20,000 (c) Seed Cost Rs 30 x 2000kg = Rs Rs 60,000 ————————————————————————– DIRECT TOTAL COST = Rs 1, 80,000

The production from 2000kg seed is around 5 tonnes. And the cost of raw turmeric is Rs 30/kg PRODUCTION OUTPUT= 30 x 5000 = Rs 1, 50,000 Therefore we can see that the expenditure exceeds sale, thus instead of benefitting from the agricultural activity, the farmers are suffering losses, which they cannot understand as there is no costing method being followed. 2) Processing-(laskein) Cost of raw turmeric is Rs 30/kg. if 100kg is taken for processing, then cost of procuring raw turmeric will be Rs 3000. kg of raw turmeric when dried will produce only 1kg. Therefore 100kg will produce 17kg of dried turmeric. a) Cost of dried turmeric = 3000 / 17kg = Rs 176/kg b) Other Indirect Cost = Rs 100/kg (sorting, washing, drying, slicing, grinding, packaging, transportation, electricity bills and other miscellaneous fee) ___________________________________________________________ TOTAL COST PER KG = Rs 276

SELLING PRICE OF 1kg POWDERED TURMERIC = Rs 250 Thus over here we can also see expenditure exceeds sale which results in a loss for the farmers. From the above analysis, it can be concluded that there is a need to reduce the DIRECT COST and to increase the Seed to Production Output in order to generate higher revenue. Interventions like introduction of power tillers, is not feasible because the cultivated areas are located in far away terrain and slopes, which are not motorable. ORGANIC PRACTICES AND SCOPE OF CERTIFICATION

As the method of cultivation in the whole state is mostly organic in nature and with the awareness on importance of organic certification that organic products fetches a premium price in the market, there is a need to promote and to create awareness among the farmers to opt for organic certification so as to increase their income from selling their products. While discussing with various farmers, it is found out that organic farming, although practiced, is mostly done using traditional methods which consist mainly of slash and burn and composting.

However, the “slash and burn” method is not considered as organic method because it kills the microbes which fertilize the field. Also, they have no access or awareness about organic pesticides like Trichogramma which is available from the State Biological Control Laboratory in Shillong. And Trichoderma which is use mainly for Ginger and Turmeric is still in the testing stage and will be available shortly. Some of the reasons that the farmers have not under gone organic certifications are mentioned below- 1) No awareness about organic certifications and its potential. ) The farmers have not received any training methods regarding organic farming. 3) They are also not aware of the market and its demand for organic products. 4) The certification process is quite long which takes up to three years. On top of that, the certificate has to be renewed every year. 5) It is also quite expensive. PROBLEMS FACED BY THE FARMERS/ PRODUCERS AT PRODUCTION LEVEL 1) Low yield of the horticultural crops in which the ratio is 1:2. ) Prevalence of bacterial and fungal infections which affect both stem rot as well as root rot 3) Unsuitable farming practices with poor drainage system to retain water 4) Very seldom crop rotation to replenish soil nutrients 5) Jhum cultivation in which the soil microorganisms died in the process 6) No organic manure is being given to the crops 7) There is no treatment of the seed before sowing 8) There is no capacity building measures being taken to tackle infections and other diseases.

POST HARVESTING AND PROCESSING ASPECTS 1) 99% of the farmers sell ginger as a raw produce while turmeric is often converted to dry slices or at times into powder form but at a lower scale. 2) The market is being dominated by the middle men 3) There is no system of grading the ginger based on size and quality 4) The seed to be stored is not harvested at the right time so as it is mature enough to resist spoilage and not properly dried to resist fungal infection 5) Lack of knowledge and training how to store the seed ) Lack of knowledge regarding value addition activities which will fetch a premium price 7) Lack of appropriate technology and infrastructure in many aspects of modern storage. SUGGESTIONS FOR TRAINING/MBDA INTERVENTION CULTIVATION LEVEL 1) Treatment of the seed with organic chemicals such as Trichoderma, one day before sowing to control any seed infection later on. 2) Use of organic compost manure to increase the yield and productivity 3) Proper inter-culture activities from month to month ) Digging of horizontal drain-like pit of about ? ft depth perpendicular to the cultivation rows in terrain areas for water and manure retention. 5) Training in capacity building measures to tackle infections and diseases of both root and stem. 6) Practicing rotation cultivation of turmeric and ginger with leguminous plants on a yearly basis to replenish the nitrogen content of the soil 7) The seed which has to be stored needs to be harvested when it has matured. POST HARVESTING ) Grading and segregating the harvest if needed 2) Proper drying of the seed for a week under the shade to avoid moisture content in order to prevent fungus infection during storage. 3) Modern method of storage to maintain the health and freshness of the seed, by digging a hole up to 1 ? ft deep inside the ground and covered with lumps of soil up to 1 ft height and then plaster with a thin layer of wet mud to prevent entry of moisture. 4) Costing method should be taught. 5) Record keeping and internal assessment. ) Awareness of the importance of value addition process post harvesting. 7) Exposure visit. 8) The officers at various levels in District headquarters should play a pro-active role in imparting training and looking at various aspects where there could be an intervention. CONCLUSION In both cases of Turmeric and Ginger, there is hardly any value addition that is being done in the State. Middlemen control the market and influenced the fluctuation in price of both these items.

In the case of Ginger alone, except for a meager percentage which gets converted into Ginger Candy at Regional Resource Training Centre (RRTC), Umran and North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd (NERAMAC), Byrnihat, there is no other value addition activity being practiced in the State. The whole amount of raw ginger is being packed into sacks of gunny bags of 40kgs and transported directly to Guwahati and Kolkata, thus we are deprived of the real value of what ginger could have fetched if proper knowledge, skills and machineries are being set up for value addition activities within the state.

Whereas in terms of Turmeric, people are more aware of the better price which powder turmeric fetches in the market. Beside few turmeric processing units at the village level which were set up by Self Help Groups (SHG) at the cluster or village level, such as one at Laskein Block in West Jaintia Hills and smaller individual Grinding units at Shangpung and Laitkor, there are many small entrepreneurs who take their produce of dry turmeric to grind at any of these grinding units and sell at local markets as well as in the main market, Iewduh in Shillong.

Of what we observed, most of the farmers involved in cultivation of turmeric and ginger, are women which comprises of around 70 percent workforce, the men are usually involve during ploughing activity which is more related to strength but as soon as the sowing season started they shifted to other kinds of works or migrated to other villages in search of work. Thus there is a lot desired and to be done in order to improve livelihood security through integration in growth value chains and market linkages in Meghalaya. ______________________________________________________________________

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