• The bulk of the ginger now sells as ginger powder, oleoresin, and ale products.

Conveniently, the ginger oils are obtained as earlier described by distillation advocated and adopted by the Federal Industrial Research Institute Oshodi (FIIRO) that gives up to 4 percent oil with simultaneous production of ginger oleoresin extracts. Commercial products exist in the following forms in Nigeria.

• Ale concentrates: Golden ale and the pale dry ale. The ale is a clear bright beverage with a sparkling, slight, but lasting, foam head.

• Ginger beer concentrates: This has a pleasant flavor and slightly pungent aroma. It was the traditional product prior to the introduction of a method of production and preservation of the beer.

• Ginger apple concentrate: The concentrate is used to make a ginger apple drink in which the main taste component is the soluble ginger extract prepared by encapsulation.

• Spicy ginger concentrates: This is used to flavor sweets, and is made from ginger oleoresin extracts mixed with orange oil.

• Ginger ice cream: The popular cream has as the recommended recipe 16 l of cream mixes, 5 g of ginger powder, appropriate volume of oleoresin and vanilla.

• Gingered soup: In homes ginger powder is preferred in the preparation of soup, especially the so-called pepper-soup in Nigeria.

• Gingered biscuits: The recipe has 250 g of ginger powder to 400kg of relevant biscuit dough. Other proportions are used to produce ginger cakes and ginger bread.

• Ginger in jollof rice cookies: In this case, fine ginger powder is sprinkled on prepared jollof rice to give it a desired hot, but pleasant, flavor.

• Ginger powder in Suya-meat: Ginger powder in appropriate quality is used in the preparation of suya mixes.

Processing for Market

Ginger is generally made available in two major forms. It is either available as fresh ginger used for preparation of candied ginger and ginger beer or as dried ginger available in the spice trade for oleoresin and oils. The procedure outlined by Meadows (1988) has been largely adopted.

For the green ginger product, the crop is harvested as earlier described, cured, put in baskets, covered with leaves, and sold as fresh green ginger. For the preparation of split-dry or African ginger, the rhizomes are split longitudinally, usually with a sharp table knife, spread on a mat-covered platform, and turned intermittently until it is properly dry. In certain cases, the cleared whole or split ginger is scalded in water for a couple of minutes before the drying process.

For the peeled or Jamaica-type ginger, the rhizomes are placed in a large vessel/basin containing water, and the outer skin carefully scraped off using a blunt knife. Much care is taken to peel off only the skin. The peeled fingers are washed in several changes of water before spreading in the sun for air drying. In Jamaica the rhizomes are blanched in 10 percent lye solution at 100°C for 3 minutes.

Basic Uses

The divergence in taste of ginger between east and west may be highlighted by the fact that while figures show the French to eat 1 1b of ginger each year per head, the Koreans eat 18 1bs. (Anonymous, 1989)

Ginger has been cultivated and processed for over 3,000 years. Nationally, it is increasingly marketed in fresh form, and internationally it is widely sold in dried and powdered forms for culinary purposes. When chewed in fresh form, ginger stimulates the flow of saliva. Ginger is stimulatory when inhaled and tends to keep the sweat pores open. It produces a feeling of warmth in the epigastrum. Ginger is an essential ingredient in treating colic to reduce constriction of the throat associated with tonsillitis; in dyspepsia and as an adjunct to purgatives to reduce their gripping action. Many value ginger as a carminative and aromatic stimulant for the gastrointestinal tract.

Cooks use ginger powder in soups and stews and often also as a stimulant in tea and pap. Ginger is versatile as a spice in ethnic cooking in many Oriental, African, and Afro-Caribbean dishes as flavoring, seasoning, and garnish.

Ginger beer, ginger wines, and also ginger ales are popular drinks, and ginger cakes, bread, biscuits, and cookies (gingersnaps) are eaten with relish. Ginger in fresh form is common in shops catering to the ethnic communities. Ginger in powdered form is sold in groceries. Ginger is available as oleoresin, as oil, or as concentrate in various perfumes, and is an ingredient in pickles, steamed puddings and sauces, chutneys, salad dressings, and fruit pies.

Anonymous (1970) and Nandakumar (1988) described the use of ginger in the manufacture of industrial ginger oil, ginger essence, and ginger oleoresin. Okwuowulu et al. (1988) reported that many traditionalists enjoy slices of fresh ginger served as complements with kolanuts (Kola nitida and K. accuminata), and when blended in prepared groundnut (Arachis hypogea) paste, goes well with eggplant, Solanum macrocarpum and S. africanum. In this form, ginger substitutes for Aframomum melegueta (Aligator pepper or grain of paradise) and Denettia tripetala (Nigerian pepper or fruit Murimi in Igbo language) in terms of pungency and pleasant flavor. Numerous other recipes and a new style of ginger powder have been developed (Chou et al., 1981). Preserved ginger (ginger in brine) is used for culinary purposes and ginger syrup and crystallized ginger in the food industry. Ginger has been occasionally used as a masking agent for mouth odor in dentrific and oral hygiene products.

Some Constraints

The need for research and development arises to assist the primary producers of ginger to reap equitable benefit from their production effort. Little attention has hitherto been devoted to crop improvement. Cultivation of poor yielders and prolonged exploitation of old stock is the first constraint. A large number of intermediaries and marketing chains (not within the control of the producer) have also constrained the farmer to reap even a marginal profit (Okwuowulu, 1997).

Selection of the best cultivar and adoption of available production regimens have helped the farmer to attain a high yield potential. Judged by the opportunity, resources, and cost of production at the farmer's disposal, it was the best that could be obtained. On the other hand, high yields, in quantitative terms, are not always related to high quality; that is, earning a high price at the export market. For example, ginger furnishes an example of a situation in which preferences are expressed by consumers for specific characteristics of a particular country of origin for use in a particular application and where supply problems exist for certain types. For instance, the Jamaican ginger is highly prized for its fine flavor, whereas the Nigerian ginger is valued as mere raw material for distillation and extraction and hence attracts a drastically low price.

In the present scenario, the absence of desired improvement in the production technology makes ginger remain a crop that is hand picked, cleaned, and stored, which means that the farmer is at the mercy of the processor, who couldn't care less whether or not the primary grower breaks even or not. To make ginger production more profitable, it is necessary to develop high-yielding lines that are resistant to the major diseases. Constraint alleviation is an important requirement for a productivity increase. Much research inputs are needed for the development of high-yielding lines, resistance to biotic stress factors, and for alleviating constraints.

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