In the 1960’s and 70’s, Jamaica was one of the top three producers of ginger in the world, but by the 1990’s the production in the island faced significant challenges with the discovery of the ginger rhizome rot. Since the early 2,000’s methods and techniques have been implemented with the help of the Jamaican government to mitigate against this production challenge for ginger farmers and luckily things have changed over the last few years. Farmers are realizing more demand for ginger both locally and internationally (especially Jamaican ginger). This has helped to create interest from new ginger farmers as well as to provide current ginger farmers the confidence needed to expand and grow their current production. The approximate ginger production in Jamaica at the end of 2017 was between 550-700 mt.
The CEO of CCJAM Produce Ltd. (a newly formed agro-based company in Jamaica) is a strong believer that Jamaica can once again be a top producer of this well sought after spice - ginger. “The Jamaican Government is really pushing agricultural development in Jamaica as a means to gain foreign currency, create new jobs and to feed the population.” CCJAM’s CEO Jared Samuel states. “There is also assistance from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) promoting and encouraging more farmers to apply for GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and by providing technical support to the government of Jamaica in revitalizing the ginger industry through the development of a Ginger sector Value Chain Upgrading Strategy and Action Plan and is now partnering with the Research and Development Division of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF), Northern Caribbean University (NCU) and the Scientific Research Council (SRC) for the production-related component. One of their key priorities is to develop and influence the distribution and trading of pathogen free ginger planting material.”
“Ginger is in high demand nationally and internationally, it is seen as a super food with many health benefits, with more and more research being done internationally to confirm this,” said Mr Samuel.
"Our intention is to not only to add to the production of ginger to create more supply, but to also build strong relationships with other big and small producers island-wide in order to create a “ginger hub” so we can export as one company under the Jamaican brand, making it easier for persons to source authentic quality Jamaican ginger."
“The challenge we face is supply and in our conversations with farmers, we are already encouraging growers to expand to be able to meet current demand, not to mention future demand. Fresh ginger can be harvested after 4 or 5 months, but to be at its most pungent it is better to harvest between 8-10 months. Jamaican ginger is world renowned for its high quality aroma and is said to be seven times more pungent than that supplied from other countries. This can be attributed to our rich soils and stable climate which uniquely impacts the chemical balance of the ginger.” Mr Sanuel quotes “according to the book Spices, Condiments and Seasonings, by Kenneth T. Farell "…Jamaica ginger is very light buff in colour with an irregular, branched shape. Divested of its outer cork layer, it is clean, hard and fibrous. The odour is aromatic, agreeable, pungent and spicy. The taste is also aromatic, pungent, and biting.”
“We are part of CARICOM which makes it easier for us to export to other counties within this group, but ginger is also in high demand in North America, the UK and other European markets as well as in countries with their own large production such as China and India who will purchase different quality or types of ginger from time to time.”
“As a company we are in the first stage of establishing ourselves as advocates of Jamaican ginger and our thrust to tell the world about our excellent quality ginger and its many value added by-products. At the moment Jamaica has a limited supply; therefore, it will be a niche product. There are many Caribbean people living around the world who would be interested in Jamaican ginger and would be willing to pay good money for it as well. We are looking at a 10 to 20-year long-term plan of expansion in which we will be dedicated to stimulate more production among the farming community and to lengthen the harvest window as best as possible. We would also like to encourage processors and manufacturers to be innovative and unique as there are many opportunities to create “limited edition” consumer products using fresh Jamaican ginger and its value added by-products such as dried, powder or the extracted oils.”
For more information:
CCJAM Produce Ltd