18 July, 2017, 12:00 am
GINGER continues to be a priority product in Fiji and a fast growing export commodity, which Government is looking to further boost.
Under the 2017/2018 National Budget, Government had allocated $1 million for ginger development under the Ministry of Agriculture’s $86.3m allocation.
This is an increase compared with the last allocation of $800,000 for the ginger development program in the last budget for farmers who had the proper resources, tools expertise and infrastructure.
This increased funding would support the revitalisation of key crop commodities such as ginger, rice, coconut, cocoa, vanilla, dalo, yaqona and potatoes.
And while Fijian ginger is getting more recognition in the international market, such development programs would assist ginger farmers with land preparations and the production of seedlings and agro inputs in the ginger development program.
Yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister entered a land preparation project for ginger growers in Nadakuni, Naitasiri.
This was part of the five under agreements signed under the Small Grant Scheme facilitated by the Office of the Prime Minister.
Permanent secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister, Yogesh Karan, signed an agreement with Esthers Earthmoving Works, the companywarded the $159,900 contract to develop the land in Nadakuni, Naitasiri for ginger farming.
“There’s a lot of work to be done in agriculture. We have put a good increase to assist the farmers in the next budget and we are looking at other sectors of agriculture,” Mr Karan said.
“To start off the farmers, because at times we find farmers do not have those kind of resources.
“They have land, you need to equip them with some level of equipment, farming and basic equipment and expertise, what to do.
“Here we are preparing the land, and it’s a good start.”
Naitasiri is among the many areas in Fiji serving as a hot spot for ginger farming including Navua, Namosi, Rewa, Tailevu, Ra in the Western Division and a few farmers are in Kadavu, Lomaiviti and Vanua Levu.
The scope of the project, which is expected to commence immediately, includes the clearing of the 40 acre land concerned and will be ploughed and prepared, benefiting more than 40 ginger farmers in the area.
Usually, land set aside for ginger farming are prepared about a month before planting, which allows the sun to kill most of the bacteria in the soil.
There are two varieties of ginger commonly grown in Fiji which are white ginger and pink ginger.
Ginger is among priority products for Fiji because of its potential for food and income benefit and providing work to the local farmers.
The Agriculture Ministry over the years has put much focus on ginger development with concerted efforts towards revitalising the ginger industry in a bid to increase production and its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In 2013, Fiji produced 10,529 metric tonnes of both immature and mature ginger, which was an increase of 3477 tonnes compared to 7052 metric tonnes produced in 2012.
Both, immature and mature ginger are worth about $12m in the industry, although it is likely to increase in the future.
Ginger from Fiji is exported to Australia, New Zealand, EU, US and Canada.
From 2009 to 2011 export earnings of the immature ginger was around $6m but it increased significantly to $12m in 2012 and 2013.
Organic ginger is also becoming a high value commodity, which the agriculture ministry is working together with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism to develop Fijian organic ginger.
Other value added products such as ginger syrup, ginger juice and puree are being marketed to Australia.
The revitalisation of key crop commodities is also expected to further add to the reduction of importation of specific commodities, such as rice, ginger among others.