Ginger was one of the earliest spices known in Western Europe, used since the ninth century.
It became so popular in Europe that it was included in every table setting, like salt and pepper.
Ginger can also be grown indoors and it makes a lovely and useful house plant if the right conditions are met.
The hybrid variety, which requires a lot of water, is planted twice a year — in January and June, which coincides with the onset of the rainy seasons in the area.
The hardy local variety can be planted at any time of the year because it can survive the dry season.
Ginger thrives in rich black loam soils and does not do so well in sandy, salty soils.
Maishara Nakintu, a resident of Kyabadaaza village, Butambala District is one of the ginger farmers in the district.
She says the ginger rhizomes are broken into small fingers which are dried in the sun for four consecutive days.
They are then packed in a sack until they sprout. The rhizomes are then ready for planting.
She says when planting, ginger is spaced like beans, but should be buried deeper. A day after planting a layer of manure (coffee husks or chicken droppings) is applied.
According to Nakintu, this can be done with a hand hoe or by spraying the weeds with a diluted weed master chemical. This should be done before the plants exceed 7-10 inches in height.
During the weeding process, Nakintu says the soil is heaped around the plant base, to stimulate rhizome growth. Weeding is carried out twice.
A day after the first weeding, the plants need to be sprayed with Dithane (4-5 tablespoons mixed with Booster (one cover per 20litres). This protects them from different pests.
Thereafter, spraying is done once a month if it is a dry season or twice a month during a wet season.
The spraying stops when the crop is five months old (hybrid) and eight months for the local variety.
Isma Kisule another ginger farmer, says harvesting ginger is similar to harvesting sweet potatoes. It is dug up with a hand hoe, carefully to avoid bruising.
He says the local variety harvest is first washed before packing it for the market. Under ideal conditions, a farmer can expect to harvest ten sacks of hybrid ginger or five of the local variety from one acre of land.
The hybrid is mostly sold in Kenya but the local variety is only sold in Uganda (in markets like Owino, Nakasero, and the breweries).
Harriet Kabahumza who deals in ginger at Kalerwe market, says a 100kg sack of hybrid goes for sh250,000 and local variety goes for sh200,000.
One kilo of hybrid ginger costs sh2,500 and the local variety costs between sh2,300 to sh2500.
Uses of ginger
Ginger is most commonly known for its effectiveness as a digestive aid. By increasing the production of digestive fluids and saliva, ginger helps relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhoea and stomach cramping.
Ginger root is also used to treat nausea related to both motion sickness and morning sickness.
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties help relieve pain and reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, rheumatism and muscle spasms.
Ginger’s therapeutic properties effectively stimulate the circulation of the blood, removing toxins from the body, cleansing the bowels and kidneys, and nourishing the skin.
Other uses for ginger root include the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems by loosening and expelling phlegm from the lungs.
Ginger root may also be used to help break fevers by warming the body and increasing perspiration.
Ginger has long been said to have aphrodisiac powers, taken either internally or externally. It is mentioned in the Karma Sutra,