Diphu: The picturesque hill district of Karbi Anglong is the hub for organic ginger cultivation, accounting for more than half of the Northeast’s produce, but lack of awareness and marketing facilities has resulted in hardship for nearly 2,000 families involved in the trade.
India produces 2.75 lakh tonnes of ginger per annum, almost a third of the world’s production of 8.35 lakh tonnes. Assam alone contributes 1.14 lakh tonnes or 41% of the country’s total production.
The Northeastern states produce more than 70% of organic ginger and Karbi Anglong alone contributes more than half of this.
Yet, nearly 2,000 families are facing a tough time due to lack of proper marketing facilities, awareness and training, resulting in vast commercial potential remaining untapped.
Karbi Anglong’s deputy commissioner M. Angamuthu—who was part of a delegation of the Federation of Indian Export Organisation that visited London, where he highlighted the prospects of organic ginger—says, if tapped properly, the trade can be an excellent source of income and provide employment to many ethnic and marginal tribal families.
The Northeastern region, he says, does not export any value-added ginger products, except a small amount of dried and raw ginger to places such as New Delhi, Siliguri and Kolkata, apart from West Asia and some western countries.
However, in view of the expanding organic market, Karbi Anglong district, with its huge tribal belt, can play a major role in the world scenario, he says.
The district, the largest in Assam and one of two hill districts in the state, has a natural advantage in terms of large tracts of land, particularly in the tribal belt, where traditional agricultural practices are still in vogue, Angamuthu says.
In most places, farmers do not use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and all that is needed is to train them in documentation and help them gain certification as growers of organic crops.
Mansing Rongpi, chairman of the Ginger Growers Cooperative Marketing Federation (Gin-Fed), said the Northeast had never done any aggressive marketing of its horticultural products.
With only one unit for manufacturing ginger products in Assam, entrepreneurs are not in a position to develop any brands of their own in the national market, Rongpi says.
The setting up of ginger processing units will reduce the role of middlemen, who consume a major share of the profits of trading and deprive poor cultivators of their dues.
Such units will also reduce post-harvest loss, and increase value of materials and income, Angamuthu says.
For this purpose, Gin-Fed has being formed to unite all small and marginal ginger growers of Karbi Anglong under one umbrella, Rongpi said.
Gin-Fed, he says, has already started procuring raw ginger from small and marginal growers through the registered NGOs of their respective areas on a pilot basis under the Rashtriya Shram Vikas Yojana.
It will be the endeavour of Karbi Anglong’s ginger growers to introduce organic ginger in the national and international markets and avoid distress sales of the product, he says. Uplifting growers economically and finding new avenues to market produce will be among top priorities, he added.