By Richard Dambo
For the people of Southern Kaduna, the ginger crop needs little or no introduction. This cash crop has since become the economic mainstay of the agrarian region. Ginger is produced in large commercial quantity in Nok, Tsakiya and Kwoi in Jaba LGA, Walijo, Maraban Walijo and Gidan Mana in Kachia LGA and Kubacha, Aribi and Katugal in Kagarko LGA, all in Kaduna State (Daily trust, 2016).
However, in recent years there has been rapid expansion coupled with the essential role ginger plays in the economic stability of peasant and even highbrow farmers. But lately the free fall of this crop calls for serious concern. Penultimate Monday at the brisk Kubacha market, a 40kg bag of ginger which was between N20,000 and N30,000 over a year ago sold for N5,500. And from permutations it is likely to fall for as low as between N3,000 and N4,000. So, a farmer who has spent a lot during the planting season now loses a lot of money during this harvest season.
I am quite aware of the Naira/Dollar saga which is contributing to price instability. Not forgetting the inability of government to stabilize market conditions by creating a price control board. A board that will regulate the price for buying and selling of ginger and other agricultural products by forming a legal cartel .
While the ginger farmers await the government to regulate these prices , we can do better than just complaining. Some years ago, ginger became the buzz crop in the cradle of every farmer. We all stopped farming maize, groundnut, soyabeans and the likes. Every farmer became ginger inclined. As a result today the market is oversaturated. The middlemen (retailers) are now capitalizing on our inability to respond to the law of demand and supply. When the retailers discovered that ginger supply was increasing they played to the gallery by making it look like demand is at all time low.
This is not rocket science just basic economics, any business where supply outweighs market demands must discount its price to increase market viability. As encapsulated in this case; demand is global as supply is increasingly tribal, as retailers define their own markets and associations via shared identity and interest. We farmers can maximize our profits too by having market associations, where uniformity of pricing system is entrenched. In furtherance farmers can also control ginger supply by diversifying into other profitable agricultural produce. Thus we won’t be victim of obnoxious capitalism by those who want our farm produce at take-away prices.