Ginger Cultivation and Farming in india

Ginger is one crop which can make you or break you. If you make a profit its sky high and if you fail, it will drop your value by at least a few lakhs per hectare. Cultivating ginger is entirely based on education and experience. Starting small is the key to success in ginger cultivation. Sometimes even the most experienced of farmers will fail when it comes to ginger cultivation and if luck is on your side, the beginner will reap lakhs in profit in the first crop itself.

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So where is the balance? There is none. A lot of factors depend on ginger cultivation. Market price is key to success. Ginger prices can go as low as 10 rupees per kilo or as high as 110 Rupees per kilo. Knowing how to cultivate, when to harvest and where to sell is key to ginger farming. You will need to know the entire process from sowing, irrigating and finally the marketing and selling of ginger if you want to be successful. Cultivating ginger is one part, but selling is key to success. Harvesting when the time is right, when the market price is just right will determine between success and failure. Patience is key. You may have to leave the ginger in the field for a longer period of time before harvesting. Harvest only when you know the prices are right. 

What are the chances of your profiting? Every farmer, even the most experienced of them will fail once every 4 years. The market prices will be low, The yield may be moderate or sometimes the weather may play havoc. But 3/4 times, chances are you will break even. 1 out of 4 times, chances are you will make a huge profit.  These are numbers and numbers are based on statistics. But then, there is another way to get 100% profit every time and without fail.  This requires a heavy investment, Steep learning curve and intense education. The practice of hydroponics with vertical farming in ginger is one of the few areas where profit is inevitable. See the section on Vertical farming and hydroponics below to know more. 

Ginger farming and Cultivation basics

Its important to know what is possible when it cmes to ginger farming and what is not. Where can ginger grow, what soil conditions and what you need to be prepared for. Getting the basics right is key to success of ginger farming. To begin with, you need the right climatic condition. Next is the soil, Irrigation , fertilizers and mulching. Pest control at intervals and finally, harvesting. Each of these phases are important to understand. This also helps understand if ginger cultivation is possible or feasible in your area. 

Soil PH Levels : 6-7

Soil Type : Well Drained Sandy loam. Red/Clay loam, Laterite soil are acceptable but yields will be lower if soil too thick and clayish. Adding compost and organic matter to loosen the soil will help increase the yield and improve soil conditions for Ginger cultivation in these soil conditions. Adding FYM is mandatory for ginger in any soil type but with clay and red soil types, more organic matter and fym will be required to loosen up the soil.

Water conditions : Ginger is very sensitive to water logging. The roots will rot and the plants will die with water logging. Proper canals to remove water from the field and every effort to keep the farm moist but without water stagnation is important. The rows should be high enough to ensure that the soil is moist but not logged with water during monsoons. To reduce water consumption and increase yield, drip irrigation is recommended. Drip irrigation also helps with water soluble fertilizer applications regularly, reducing cost of labour during the process.

Sowing : May is the time to sow ginger . Right before the monsoon in most states in india is perfect for ginger sowing. The time may vary by a month and some varieties can be sown during november . Generally , most varieties are sown during May through out india. Find the variety suitable for your region. The right seed with high yield and the quality of the seed is the first thing to ensure a successful crop when it comes to ginger. Inferior seeds will give you inferior plants and inferior yield will be the result. Saving a few 1000 Rupees on seeds will probably be a bad idea as it may result in lakhs of losses. 

Choose your seeds wisely. Ensure the seeds are free from diseases and of good quality. 

Varieties of ginger. There are 7 selected varieties , which are noted for its high yield in Tamil nadu. The Varieties are completely different in other regions. For instance, IISR, Suprabha, Suruchi, Surabhi, Himagiri, IISR Mahima, IISR Regitha are the noted varieties by TNAU. In maharashtra the most selected variety is the Mahim which is completely different from those listed in tamil nadu. All varieties are usually local. Mahim is considered one of the best varieties in india but then most other varieties have their own set of qualities which are different from area to area. For farmers, the right variety means resistance to pest, suitable to soil and most importantly high yield.

Below are the common varieties and the Yield Per hectare

VarietiesGreen ginger yield t / hamaturity (days)
IISR22.6200
Suprabha16.6229
Suruchi11.6218
Surabhi17.5225
Himagiri13.5230
IISR Mahima23.2200
IISR Regitha22.4200
China9.5200
Assam11.78210
Maran25.21200
Himachal7.27200
Nadia28.55200
Rio -De-Janeiro17.65190

Soil Preparation : Soil preparation is the next process . Once you have decided on the seed and know the seed quality, lifespan of the crop, its important to get the next stage of ginger crop ready. Your soil preparation will include incorporation of organic matter, removing all weeds, creating beds and disinfecting the soil. Incorporate as much organic matter like dry leaves and FYM, Compost into the soil before the first plough. Plough the soil 3-4 times before creating trenches.   If your soil is fungal infected, chances of ginger getting infected at some stage is high. Neutralizing the condition and sanitizing the soil is important. Incorporating the right amount of nutrition to the soil in the initial stages will ensure good growth for the plants. Preparing the field to allow water to flow through by creating trenches and rows will make sure that the ginger plants are not flooded. Remember, ginger does not tolerate water stagnation. 

Rows of 4 feet width are dug up with trenches up to 2 feet in between. The bed should be at least 6 inches high and this will increase over time when the ginger is grown and soil from the trenches are used to cover them up every month for the first 3-4 months. Plants are sown at a distance of 5-6 inches. Seed rate differs from variety to variety but an average of 1000-1200 KG of seed is required per acre. Treating the seeds with .3% Dithane M 45 for 30 minutes before sowing is beneficial. 

Fertilizers :
25-30 Tonnes of Cow Dung / FYM / compost per hectare before sowing

2 Tonnes Neem Cake – during bed preparation

75kg of Nitrogen (applied twice on 4th and 90th day. 

50 kg P2O5 – After sowing

25 kg K2O – After sowing

Application of fertilizer is key requirement of ginger farming. You need a weekly application of water soluble nutrients or monthly application of basal nutrients. While basal application of nutrients are easier for some, the benefits of drip irrigation with water soluble nutrients are known to improve yield. Apart from yield, its far more efficient when it comes to healthier plants. Drip irrigation is key to success of ginger plants. While many farmers consider this an extra investment of up to 50,000 rs per acre, this investment will may off many folds, specially in dry areas.

Not every soil is perfect for ginger crops. There may be a lack or excess of nutrition in your soil. These are the recommended nutrition for ginger crops but you can determine what is required and what is not after a soil test. 

Irrigation

Irrigation is key to proper growth of the plant. The better the plant, the better the yield. If your crop is going to be deprived or in excess of irrigation, there are a lot of problems which may occur. If the farm is flooded, there are chances of fungal disease in ginger and also root rot. Your entire crop will perish in just a day or two. Drought on the other hand is slow to kill the plants but will inevitably reduce yield and create losses. 

During the initial stages of ginger plantation, Sprinklers are used to irrigate the field. Keeping the soil for the first 2 weeks will help the seeds germinate faster. The down side of sprinklers is that there will be weeds and a lot of them. Removing weeds on the second week will loosen up the soil a bit and alow the ginger roots to spread. Application of fertilizer during the first weeding is not necessary but depends on your soil conditions. Get a soil test done to check the nutritional levels in your soil. Chances are you do not need to earth up yet, as it will cover the young plant with soil right away. Allow at least 1 feet of plant height before earthing up or check to see if the ginger roots are visible. If the roots are visible, earth up.

Mulching : Mulching will reduce weeds. A layer of hay, up to 3 inches thick , spread on the beds will reduce weeds even with a sprinkle. This also retains maximum moisture in the soil and avoids evaporation. Hay is also known to make a warmer ecosystem near the soil , which is suitable for the germination of ginger. Prepare your ginger beds to be mulched, preferably with good hay, rather than stray leaves. Neem leaves and certain other plants with high foliage are also well suited for ginger crops as mulch.

Time to harvest

The most important part of ginger cultivation is the harvest. Unlike many other perishable crops lie rice, wheat, fruits and vegetables, ginger can be cultivated long after the crop has gone through the full cycle. Usual life of a fll crop is 9 months. Ginger can be cultivated on the 10th month with its full yield. But wait. What if the market price is not what you desire? What if its too low and you think the prices would go high in a month or two? 

Ginger can be harvested up to 9 months after its full cycle. So you could harvest it from the 1th month to the 18th month and anytime in between. All you have to ensure is that plot is maintained well. Mulch the area to ensure that the ginger does not lose its water content. Do not water the bed as it may start to sprout again! Understanding how to keep your ginger crop intact without harvesting for up to 8-9 months is a skill in itself. This is one of the few reasons why most farmers recommend that you start small. 

You could also harvest your ginger and store them to sell when ready. This may require a dark room. Check out the ginger storage facility by ICAR at https://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/post-harvest-technologies/technologies-for-agri-horti-crops/low-cost-ginger-storage-structure. This easy to implement facility can store your ginger harvest for up to a year without loss.

Diseases and pests

Ginger is known to be susceptible to a range of disease, fungal, viral and bacterial. Apart from these there are problems with shoot and root borers. Prevention can be taken by preparing the soil before sowing, sowing good and healthy seeds and maintaining a clean farm. Moisture is required but they also become thriving environment for fungal diseases. Keeping a balance and applying the right pesticides and chemical formulas are key to success with ginger crops. Check out the full list of disease and problems with ginger on https://www.intechopen.com/books/ginger-cultivation-and-its-antimicrobial-and-pharmacological-potentials/diseases-of-ginger

Profit with Ginger and its economics

The key to profit is about timing. Timing your sale is key. You will have to know when to harvest ginger. Harvesting when there is already a good amount of ginger in the market will create lower price. For instance, October to february is peak harvest season for ginger in kerala. The market is flooded with ginger and the prices were as low as 4000 Rs per quintal in 2020-2021 for these months. But if you look at the other months, the prices went from 7000 to 12,000 per quintal from may to october. Thats nearly double the price during the other months. (Data from https://agmarknet.gov.in/)

You will see the same price trend every year for the past 2-3 years and this is not a mistake. Cultivate your ginger by the end of may if you are in kerala. For other parts of the country, check your nearest mandi price for the past few years to determine when the price is higher. If you see a trend, harvest them near that period or store them till the time is right. 

From the above price list you will realize that the price for ginger was at a price of 40Rs per kg minimum and 120 rs Per KG maximum in Kerala. Take an average price of 60 Rs per Kg for your calculation. 

Average yield per hectare which is mentioned on most websites is approximately 15-20 tonnes. Some varieties like china have very poor yield (less than 10 tonnes per hectare) . We will not consider these varieties. Take an average yield of 15 tonnes per acre as an average. 

Land preparation50000
Drip Irrigation50000
Manure and Fertilizers75000
Labour35000
Other costs50000
Total Cost260000
Total Yield Per acre15000 KG
Average Price40 Rs per Kg
Total RevenueRs. 600000
Net ProfitRs. 340000

Ginger is a profitable crop but requires skill, education and effort. One small mistake could bring a massive profit to total loss. And if you are thinking that 340000rs per year is a bumper crop, wait till you see that go up to 40 Lakhs per year with the implementation of hydroponics and vertical farming. All that in just one hectare of land. 

Download Full ginger farming guide by FAO at http://www.fao.org/3/ca5775en/CA5775EN.pdf