Ginger is an upright tropical plant (Zingiber
officinale Rosc.) that grows to about 1 metre tall.
It originated in India and is now produced in
tropical climates throughout the world; China,
Taiwan, Nigeria, Jamaica, Mauritius and Australia
are the major producers. The largest markets for
ground ginger are the United Kingdom, Yemen,
the USA, Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia.
The edible parts of the plant are the rhizome (at
the base of the stem) and the young tender stem.
Forms of ginger
Ginger is usually available in three different
Fresh (green) root ginger
Preserved ginger in brine or syrup
Dried ginger spice.
Figure 1: Fresh ginger.
Photo: Practical Action / Neil Noble
Fresh ginger is usually consumed in the area where it is produced, although it is possible to
transport fresh roots internationally. Both mature and immature rhizomes are consumed as a
Preserved ginger is only made from immature rhizomes. Most preserved ginger is exported. Hong
Kong, China and Australia are the major producers of preserved ginger and dominate the world
Making preserved ginger is not simple as it requires a great deal of care and attention to quality.
Only the youngest most tender stems of ginger should be used. It is difficult to compete with the
well established Chinese and Australian producers, therefore processors are advised against
making this product.
Dried ginger spice is produced from the mature rhizome. As the rhizome matures the flavour and
aroma become much stronger. Dried ginger is exported, usually in large pieces which are ground
into a spice in the country of destination. Dried ginger can be ground and used directly as a
spice and also for the extraction of ginger oil and ginger oleoresin.
This brief outlines the important steps that should be taken pre-harvest and post-harvest to
produce dried ginger.
Cultivation of ginger
Ginger is a perennial plant but is usually grown as an annual for harvesting as a spice. It
requires a warm and humid climate and a heavy rainfall of 150-300cm a year or plenty of
irrigation. The plant can be cultivated from almost sea level to an altitude of 1500m above sea
level. It thrives well in sandy or clay loam soil with good drainage and humus content. Ginger is
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