Sunday, 26 June 2011

Instant Salabat, Cocktails, Kharif Crops & Fruit Flies

Today (Sunday) will be the last day of this year's Agraryo Trade Fair in Mandaluyong City in the Philippines. I mention this because the fair will feature the famous (well, in the Philippines at least) Badiangan Instant Salabat or Ginger Brew. The tea is a product of the Badiangan Ginger Planters and Producers Co-operative (BGPPC), an organisation representing ginger farmers from seven districts. BGPPC was formed in 1998 to assist ginger farmers who had suffered when their sole export market (Japan) collapsed following the dishonest dealings of some farmers and traders who sold ginger rhizomes mixed with ginger-liked products. Inevitably it will take time and patience to recover from a tarnished image.

I never cease to be amazed at the number of cocktails from around the world which contain ginger. So it is not surprising to find that many of these cocktails come from the world's largest producer of ginger - India. The Mumbai Boss reported that a restaurant in the city (The Elbo Room) now serves two ginger-based drinks. The Nashik Mule is made from Triple Sec, white wine, curry leaves and ginger. Jamaicano is made from shiraz, orange juice, pineapple juice and ginger ale. Note that both drinks have the ever-popular ginger and orange combination in common.

The results of a study into a number of ginger specimens with varying genetic characteristics has just been published. The research, titled Variability of Ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.) Accessions for Morphological and Some Quality Traits in Ethiopia, was led by Jimma University. The report states that the average ginger yield is "very low" at 15.87 tonnes/ha. I didn't think that figure was too bad as the world average two years ago was just over 2.5 t/ha. But Ethiopian scientists believe that they can do better. The point of the experiment was not to find a "super" ginger variety ( which would have been known already) but to uncover sought-after traits across a number of varieties. Various characteristics were measured and certain readings proved to be of significant interest such as the speed of growth through to maturity, the rhizome yield, oil content and the marked differences between Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian stock.

Farmers in Pakistan are becoming concerned as the cost of fertiliser has started to rise steeply just before the start of the Kharif crops planting season. Kharif crops are crops (including ginger) which are sown in the rainy season in India and Pakistan. The fertiliser producers are claiming that production is being hampered by the lack of a reliable gas supply and that this has resulted in a fertiliser shortage.

Scientists at the Queensland University of Technology are facing a race against time to find an environmentally acceptable way of controlling the fruit fly before existing chemical methods are restricted or possibly banned. The fruit fly is proving to be a major pest for fruit and vegetable growers in tropical and subtropical Australia. A promising method under investigation is to lure male fruit flies with ginger essence (zingerone) and then kill them with a small amount of insecticide placed in the trap. To be honest, it is going to prove very difficult to eradicate the fruit fly without employing insecticides but if they must be used then their use in a limited and controlled environment must be the way to go.

Have a look at this ginger ale taste test, US-style.

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