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FG rise to stem Epidemic threatening Nigerias 4.16 billion dollars Ginger market

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By Victoria Onehi

The Federal Government has risen to address the challenge that has struck a vital artery of the nation’s agriculture sector-the Ginger Blight Epidemic.

Inaugurating the Ginger Blight Epidemic Control Taskforce in Abuja yesterday,the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security,Alhaji Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the epidemic is a devastating fungal disease which has inflicted significant damage on ginger farms in Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau and FCT, particularly in Southern Kaduna –a region synonymous with Nigerian ginger production. 

Abdullahi said the blight has caused billions of naira in losses, impacting not only the livelihoods of countless hardworking farmers but also Nigeria’s position as the world’s second-largest ginger producer. The Nigerian ginger is not just any ginger; its taste and pungency are truly unrivaled. This unique quality has long been cherished here at home, but now, the world has finally taken notice.

The Minister said: “The international market’s demand for ginger is surging driven by its increasing popularity for its health and culinary benefits. With a market value that’s expected to reach 6.29 billion USD by 2030, up from 4.16 billion USD in 2023, Nigerian ginger presents a phenomenal opportunity for our nation’s economic growth.

“Our preliminary estimates suggest affected farmers in Southern Kaduna lost over N12 billion, highlighting the significant financial blow. Furthermore, considering that over 85% of Nigeria’s ginger cultivation occurs in this region, we can safely assume a substantial oss of cultivated land, potentially exceeding 70%.

“However , let me assure you, amidst this rough patch,there is hope. The Federal Government under the committed leadership of our Farmer Friendly President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR recognises the critical role the ginger industry plays in our national economy and the profound impact this epidemic has had on our farmers.” Abdullahi said.

The Minister said in line with Mr. Presidents directive to explore every avenue to mitigating the impact of the outbreak especially with a view to revitalise the ginger subsector, sustainably stimulate the livelihood of the affected farmers and forestall future occurrences,on 15th of December, 2023, a roundtable discussion was convened by the Office of the Vice President with key stakeholders researchers from the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), representatives from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the Kaduna State Government, IITA, the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), private sector ginger aggregators, and dedicated ginger producers. The forum he said served as a platform to collaboratively explore solutions to this crisis.

The Minister said the taskforce will serve as the cornerstone to bring together the expertise of researchers, extension agents, and most importantly, the dedicated farmers. He said launch of the task force will be followed by a groundbreaking State level ceremony on Wednesday 27th March, 2024 in Kaduna where the Taskforce through the National Agriculture Development Fund (NADFund) will launch a N1.6B recovery package for affected farmers.

The Commissioner of Agriculture of Kaduna state, Murtala Dabo said the Gínger Blight Epidemic affected 7 Local Government Areas in the state. He said at the peak of the disease, the state bought fungicides which was distributed to the smallholder farmers but then  the disease had already eaten deep in to their ginger farms.

Dabo said: “As a state government, we gave fungicides to help stop the disease. That is how we were able salvage the little ginger we have now. We used fungicides to dress the seeds before they planted. That is the way the soil can be treated. “

Dabo said the 1.6 billion recovery package is to help Ginger farmers with inputs such as seeds to via into other crop production until the ginger blight epidemic is wiped out.

The Chairman of the taskforce and Director, Federal Department of Agriculture , at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Engineer Abdullahi Abubakar, said the task force will start action immediately and avert the scourge of the epidemic and avoid future occurance. 

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