Ginger has since been known in Ethiopia and is cultivated primarily in the humid regions of the Southern parts of the country. Though there is huge potential for production and export earnings, there are lots of challenges that keep the performance of the commodity very low. The ginger problem was identified as a crucial concern that necessitates stakeholders’ attention in order to realize efforts to transform the food system during the Rapid Food System Appraisal and baseline survey conducted by RAISE-FS. Since then, the project has been scanning the ginger issue, consulting with relevant stakeholders, and assessing for possible solutions. As part of its ongoing effort, it has organized a stakeholder consultative workshop for revitalization of ginger on 21th of November 2022 at Hawassa town.
The goal of the consultative workshop was to develop a shared understanding of ginger production constraints among key stakeholders, to identify and demonstrate short-term feasible solutions to ginger production challenges, and to establish a stakeholders’ platform to provide leadership and strategic direction for long-term solutions.
Mr. Tefera Zerfu, D/head of the SNNPR Coffee & Spices Regional Authority, officially opened the workshop. Tefera stated in his opening speech, “In the country, the majority of ginger is produced in the South.” However, ginger viral disease reduced production from 37,000 ha to 1,000 ha. With so many efforts, the area has now grown to 25,000 ha, but much more effort from all concerned stakeholders is required to revitalize ginger production and marketing.” He praised SARI, Hawassa University, and the RAISE-FS project for organizing such an important platform to revitalize ginger.
The workshop then continued with a presentation from EIAR on research efforts made thus far to improve ginger production management. The presentation discussed how the impact of the complex disease on the ginger crop has seriously impacted the country’s socioeconomic situation, with exports of Ethiopian ginger dropping dramatically since 2012, from US$24 million to nearly nil. It was also revealed that more than 13 private ginger investment farms had gone bankrupt. The EIAR made efforts and developed various control strategies for ginger bacterial wilt and leaf spot disease. There is, however, no single effective control measure. Therefore, the presenter suggested more effort should be made to improve the soil health and availability of clean planting materials.
Areka agricultural center which is a center of excellence for ginger research in South presented experiences in controlling the ginger bacterial wilt. Dr. Asfaw Kifle a researcher from Areka ARC indicated in his presentation that all ginger cultivars in Ethiopia are latently infected with ginger bacterial wilt. No disease-free planting material is traced all over the country. He also mentioned due to the disease ginger production in SNNPR was official banned, however farmers` continued ginger production using “Nurtured Production” (እያሰታመሙ ማምረት) because no crop is as high-income generator as ginger does. Dr. Asfaw stressed that once high potential areas for ginger production in the South now has become food insecure.
A brief overview of a research project done by Addis Ababa University on verification and demonstration of integrated disease management (IDM) of ginger on small-scale farmers’ field conditions, was presented by Mr. Feleke Sibatu. In the presentation strategies to improved management of ginger was explained. As a short-term strategy spraying of Matico fungicides, spraying botanical plant, integrated disease management manual development, use of tissue culture of ginger and determine maximum residue effects of fungicides was proposed. In the long-term screening and evaluation of new fungicides, screening and evaluation of various ginger cultivars, evaluation and applications of biological control agents, applications of biological control methods and cost benefit analysis of different management means were mentioned.
The status of ginger production and marketing in the South region was presented by Mr. Tefera Zerfu, D/head of the SNNPR Coffee & Spices Regional Authority. He stated that the ginger bacterial wilt disease first appeared in the area in 2012, affecting 85% of farmers in the regions engaged in ginger production. The disease caused a decrease in the amount of land covered with ginger from 23,354 ha to 1,075 ha in 2013. Production of ginger completely ceased in 2015. No ginger has been produced in the area between 215 and 2020. Mr. Tefera said the SNNPR Coffee & Spices Regional Authority in collaboration with other stakeholders made a lot of efforts to reduce the problem by producing disease free ginger seed using tissue culture.
Based on the presentations, participants thoroughly discussed on the ginger problem and how to revitalize ginger production and marketing. Participants explained their worry that farmers have a tendency to use high rates and frequency, as well as different types of chemicals, to reduce the problem. This has resulted in a large amount of chemical fertilizer application and a large chemical residual in the soil. Participants also expressed hope that if all stakeholders involved collaborate and act together, the problem can be solved and ginger revitalization can be realized. They regarded the consultative workshop as an important first step toward ginger revitalization.
In the afternoon session participants discussed in a breakout session in groups. Participants were grouped based on the institution they represent: government organizations, non-governmental organizations and research institutes. The group was formed in a way to ensure that the discussion is focused on objectivity, avoiding bias (personal and institutional), listening to all perspectives, and sticking to the big picture: benefiting smallholder farmers, the private sector, and the country as a whole.
Then, groups presented outcomes of their discussion. In their presentation they focused on the root cause of ginger problem that the group agreed, identifying the best strategies, relevant organizations with their roles and responsibilities, and individuals that represent these organizations.
Finally, Dr. Tewodrose Tefera, senior food system advisor for the RAISE-FS project, stated in his way forward plenary that based on the two technical groups’ recommendations. He said RAISE FS will focus on demonstration of feasible technologies for improved management of ginger production as a short-term solution. In the long run, the Ginger Revitalization Core Group (GRCG) will serve as a starting point for addressing the complex problem of ginger, which includes diseases and pests, agronomic practices, processing and post-harvest management, market linkage, and stakeholder alignment. The GRCG will be a podium which facilitate alignment between key stakeholders, broker knowledge co-creation, provide leadership, mobilize resources and influence policy and strategic direction on ginger.
The consultative workshop brought together 24 individuals from MoA, SNNPR Coffee & Spices Regional Authority, SARI, Hawassa and Addis Ababa universities, partner organizations, and RAISE-FS project.