Ginger growing is one of Ali Kiwanuka’s main farming enterprises. He has learnt the mastered the dynamics and is doing it well.
However, growing ginger well requires good agricultural practices, especially the use of improved seeds, intensive land preparation and thorough weeding.
Kiwanuka says the hybrid variety of ginger requires a lot of water and can planted twice a year, and that is, January and June.
He says the local variety can be planted 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.
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.
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.
This can be done with a hand hoe or by spraying the weeds with diluted weed master chemical. This should be done before the plants exceed 7-10 inches in height.
During the weeding process, 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 (four to five tablespoons mixed per 20 litres). This protects them from pests.
Thereafter, spraying is done once a month if it is 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.
Harvesting ginger is similar to harvesting sweet potatoes. It is dug up with a hand hoe, carefully to avoid bruising. The local variety harvest is first washed before packing it for the market.
Under ideal conditions, a farmer can expect to harvest 10 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 (markets like Nakasero, Nakawa and in the breweries.
A 100kg sack of hybrid ginger goes for sh250,000-sh280,000 and local variety goes for sh200,000-sh220,000. One kilo of hybrid ginger costs sh2,500 and local variety costs between sh2,300 to sh2,500.