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Ginger exports cross 13,000 t

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G.K. Nair

Kochi, April 24

EXPORTS of ginger from the country crossed 13,000 tonne in 2004-05 for the first time after 1997-98 following decline in supply from other major producing countries.

The shortage in the international market had also pushed up the prices. In fact, the prices were ruling high in 2003-04 due to short supply.

The continuous low prices in the past years had forced the major producer Nigeria to stop cultivation while the crop in China had been poor last fiscal and the year before, market sources told Business Line.

"China was not offering enough while Nigeria does not have it and hence we are the only source now," they said.

The highest-ever export of ginger was in 1996-97 when the country exported 29,737 tonne valued at Rs 59.24 crore. The unit value then was a meagre Rs 19.92 a kg.

However, in 2003-04 the unit value was Rs 46.81 a kg and it was Rs 42.13 in 2004-05. In fact, during the period from 1991-92 to 1997-98 the exports remained at higher levels above 12,000 tonne except in 1992-93 when it was 9,825 tonne.

India is the largest producer of ginger in the world with 3,07,370 tonnes from an area of 85,930 ha in 2002-03 though in terms of area Nigeria and China are on top.

Ginger is cultivated in almost all the States in the country. However, the major producers in 2002-03 were Meghalaya 45,650 tonne; Kerala (32,410 tonne); Arunachal Pradesh (32,330 tonne); Mizoram (31,140 tonne); Orissa (29,490); Sikkim (23,610 tonne); and West Bengal (20,210 tonne).

Indian ginger especially Kochi ginger is considered one of the best in the world market because of "its characteristic lemon like flavour" and the absence of fibre content. Hence, the demand is primarily for Kochi/Kozhikode ginger. Kochi ginger usually trades at a premium.

Ginger produced in the Northeastern States is said to have high fibre content. Ginger from this part of the country is exported mainly to Pakistan and Bangladesh for vegetable purpose, export sources said.

On an average Indian export of ginger was about eight per cent of the domestic production.

The main overseas markets of the commodity are Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, UAE, Morocco, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, the UK and the US.

Though there has been tough competition from other producing countries such as China, Nigeria and Thailand, the superior quality Indian ginger used to have steady market, they said.

The country has emerged as a major producer and exporter of value-added products of ginger like ginger oil and oleoresin. The export of ginger oleoresin from India has increased substantially during the last five years, they added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 25, 2005)
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