Thailand's agriculture sector produces about 32,000 tons of ginger in a year. The crop is cultivated extensively in the northern part of the country, especially in the mountains. Ninety percent of the production comes from the hills. Thailand had a slow increase in production over the period. Without much improvement in the recorded productivity of 25,000 kg/ha, improvement in the overall production was achieved through area expansion. The estimated normal growth rate for the period 1990 to 2002 was 2.7%, 2.81%, and 0.10%, respectively, for area, production and productivity.
Ginger from Thailand is noticeably distinguishable from other ginger by its plumpness, roundness, and short internodes. The dried "Golden" ginger is packed and exported.
Three primary products of ginger rhizome are traded in the world market: fresh ginger, preserved ginger in syrup or brine, and dried ginger. Preserved ginger is prepared from the immature rhizome, whereas the pungent and aromatic dried spice is prepared from harvesting and drying the mature rhizome. Fresh ginger, consumed as a vegetable, is harvested both when immature and mature. The preserved and dried products are the major forms in which ginger is internationally traded. Fresh ginger is of less importance in international trade, but this is the major form in which ginger is consumed in the producing countries. Dried ginger is used directly as a spice and also for the preparation of its extractives—ginger oleoresin and ginger oil (ITC, 1995).
Commercial ginger in India is graded according to the region of production, number of fingers contained in the rhizome, size, color, and fiber content. In Indian states such as Himachal Pradesh, grading of ginger is done only in the state. The first grade, popularly known as "Gola" in the local market, comprises very bold and round bits of dry ginger, having maximum dry matter and low fiber contents. The second grade, known as "Gatti," includes bits of bold, round to oblong pieces, which are smaller than gola. The third and fourth grades are smaller bits having low dry matter and high fiber contents (Jaiswal, 1980). For export purposes, Calicut and Cochin ginger are graded into special, good, and nonspecial grades depending on the size of the rhizomes and the percentage of the presence of extraneous material.
Dried ginger has been traditionally traded internationally in the whole or split forms and is ground in the consuming centers. Export of the ground spice from the producing countries is on an extremely small scale. The major use of ground dried ginger on a worldwide basis is for domestic culinary purposes, whereas in the industrialized Western countries it also finds extensive use in the flavoring of processed foods. Ground dried ginger is employed in a wide range of foodstuffs, especially in bakery products and desserts (Anonymous, 1996).
Ginger oleoresin, an important value-added product, is obtained by solvent extraction of dried ginger and is prepared both in certain industrialized Western countries as well as in some of the spice-producing countries; most notably in Australia and India. This product possesses the full organoleptic properties of the spice—aroma, flavor, and pungency—and finds similar applications to those of the ground spice in the flavoring of processed foods. The oleoresin is also used in certain beverages and to a limited extent in pharmaceutical preparations. The new process developed by the Regional Research
Laboratory, Trivandrum, for extracting oil and oleoresin from fresh ginger, will lead to a higher recovery of the oil with superior organoleptic qualities, and will drastically reduce spoilage of fresh ginger during the harvesting season. This technology, which is highly suitable for the northeastern states, can utilize the cheap raw material available during the harvesting season to convert it into high-priced value-added products. The operating cost of a fresh ginger-processing facility is much lower than that for a conventional plant. Further, drying, peeling, and so forth are dispensed with, and since the processing is done during the ginger harvesting season, the raw material inventory can be reduced drastically. It is expected that adoption of this new technology can boost the country's prospects in adding value to the export basket of Indian ginger.
Ginger oil is distilled from the dried spice mainly in the major spice-importing countries of Western Europe and North America, as well as in some of the spice-producing countries such as India. This product possesses the aroma and flavor of the spice but lacks the pungency. It finds its main application in the flavoring of beverages and it is also used in confectionery and perfumery. Preserved ginger is prepared mainly in China, Hong Kong, Australia, and India, but smaller quantities of fresh ginger are processed in some importing countries too. It is used both for domestic culinary purposes and in the manufacture of processed foods such as jams, marmalades, cakes, and confectioneries (Sreekumar and Arumughan, 2003).
Regarding the market structure, there are a number of firms and individuals actively participating in the ginger trade especially in the case of dried ginger. A large number of dealers, brokers, and various other intermediaries between the dealer and the user or even between the dealer and the dealer exist both in exporting and importing countries. Singapore, London, New York, Hamburg, and Rotterdam are major trading centers. In the case of preserved ginger, Hong Kong is the major trading center. Fresh ginger is marketed through the fruits and vegetables trade network.
The prevailing marketing channel for ginger in India is seen in Figure 12.3, with slight variation between the regions. To begin with, farmers, after retaining the needed quantity for seed purposes and for domestic consumption, sell off a portion of their output to commission agents/village traders, who collect the produce at the farm gate. The produce thus collected is taken to the nearest assembly market in the taluk/block, from where it is transported to the regional/district level main marketing centers. Farmers having a large production base often take their produce to local and/or regional markets directly. Once the product reaches the regional (taluk/district) level markets, it is cleaned, graded, and then packed in sacks of about 60 kg. From here it is moved to terminal markets like Kochi, Chennai, Bombay, Bangalore, Kolkotta and New Delhi. Except in states like Kerala, where the ginger is dried and marketed for export purposes, in all other states harvested fresh ginger is marketed following the channels of vegetable marketing in the region. In some of the states fresh ginger is listed along with the vegetables covered under market regulation.
In terms of the ratio between the farm harvest price and retail price, it was observed that the ratio was higher in 1989 than in 1995. Moreover, fluctuations in the ratio were also less in 1989. The ratio between the farm harvest prices and the wholesale price has also gone down in recent years.
Factors of Demand/Export
Major factors that contribute to the export demand/potential of a commodity is quality. In ginger quality parameters are fiber content, volatile oil content, and nonvolatile ether extract.
Ginger grown in different parts of the country varies considerably in its intrinsic properties and its suitability for processing. This is perhaps more important with regard to preparing dried ginger than preserved ginger. The size is particularly relevant with the processing of dried ginger, and medium-sized rhizomes are generally the most suitable. Some areas grow ginger types yielding very large rhizomes, which are marketed as fresh ginger, but are unsuitable for converting to the dried spice owing to their high moisture content. This causes difficulties in drying, frequently a heavy wrinkled product is obtained, and the volatile oil content is often low and below standard requirements. From the above point of view, ginger produced in certain pockets of Kerala has more export demand/potential in the world market.
Indian Dried Ginger: Two types of Indian ginger entering the international market are Cochin and Calicut; named after the two major production areas on the Malabar Coast of Kerala. The bulk of Indian exports is of rough scraped, whole rhizomes. In addition to this, some bleached or limed ginger is also produced, but this is mainly exported to the Middle East, as it is not favored in European and North American markets. Cochin and Calicut gingers have volatile oil contents in the range of 1.9 to 2.2%. They are characterized by a lemon-like aroma and flavor, which is more pronounced with the Calicut spice. They are starchier but are almost as pungent as Jamaican ginger. Their nonvolatile ether extract content is about 4.3%. They are widely used for blending purposes, and ginger beer manufacturers prefer these types (Spices Board, 1992).
In India, production of the dried ginger of commerce is confined exclusively to the state of Kerala and the product is of two types—Cochin and Calicut. The Cochin type, which is preferred over the Calicut type, is grown in central Kerala, mainly concentrated in the districts of Ernakulam and Idukki; and the Calicut is grown in the Malabar region including the Waynad district in northern Kerala. The estimated cost of production of dry ginger in Kerala is given in Table 12.8.
There is no recognized commercial variety of dried ginger produced in other parts of the country. Kerala ginger is considered to be one of the best due to its lower fiber content, boldness, and characteristic aroma and pungency. Gingers produced in other states have more fiber content, and are largely used for internal consumption in the form of green ginger. Kerala accounts for over 60% of the total dried ginger production and about 90% of India's ginger export trade. Cost and returns involved in making dried ginger following the recommended method of natural sun drying is in Table 12.8. As it can be seen from Table 12.3, the farmer gets the benefit—cost ratio of 1.46 when compared to 1.13 in the case of fresh ginger marketing.
In contrast to Jamaican gingers, which are clean peeled, Indian dried gingers are usually rough peeled or scraped. The rhizomes are peeled or scraped only on the flat sides of the hands; much of the skin between the "fingers" remains intact. The dry ginger so produced is known as the rough or unbleached ginger of commerce, and the bulk of the dried ginger produced in central Kerala consists only of this quality. Sometimes Indian gingers are exported unpeeled. For the foreign market, both Cochin and Calicut gingers are graded according to the number of "fingers" in the rhizomes: B, three fingers; C, two fingers; D, pieces. In addition to these two well-known types of Indian ginger, another type, Calcutta ginger, is occasionally seen in the market (Pruthi, 1989).
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