Sunday, 16 October 2011

Tanzanian Ginger, Rum And Ginger,Quirky Beer & Nadia Variety

Generally, this blog tends to report on news from the UK, USA, India and China for the simple reason that these countries seem to generate most of the ginger news. Africa hasn't had much of a look in but now I can report on some ginger news in Tanzania. Ippmedia carried a report principally on the financial benefits of the Jatropha plant but it also mentioned a development in the ginger sector. Over 7,000 ginger farmers in the Kilimanjaro region are now reaping the unspecified but presumably financial benefits of joining a cooperative society. In the last five to six years production has more than doubled and the price has increased more than sevenfold.

I thought that 7,000 ginger farmers in one relatively small region sounded rather a lot until I discovered that the majority, if not all, of these farmers are in fact smallholders with plots ranging in size from 0.2 to 1.0 hectares. Most of the ginger, when not used for domestic consumption, is exported to Kenya, Germany and the Netherlands. Recently it was reported that ginger provides 50% of the income for this region so we can see how important it is for many families. Incidentally, the official language of Tanzania is Swahili and the Swahili word for ginger is Tangawizi.

Brooke Bond Taj Mahal has launched a ginger tea to cater for the changing tastes of Indian tea drinkers. This proves that even with the seemingly humble ginger tea there is scope for something different and distinctive. Variety is the spice of life.

I have mentioned Halewood International a number of times in the past as the maker of Crabbie's ginger drinks. You may have the impression that Halewood only makes Crabbie's products but you would be wrong. Although I may be a little bit late with this news but I read the other day that Halewood recently launched a rum-based, ginger flavoured RTD called Lazy Jacks. The drink will be marketed with the strapline "laid-back refreshing ginger tingler". I'd like to thank Halewood for being at the forefront of the UK's ginger renaissance (and no, I'm not brown nosing!).

The Morung Express sang the praises of more than one hundred ginger farming families in one village on the slopes of Mount Paona in the Indian state of Nagaland. It said that the farmers in the village of Punglwa should be recognised for the quality of their ginger and that a rich harvest is anticipated. Twenty thousand kilograms of the Nadia variety have been planted as 'seed' this year with the yield expected to be seven to tenfold. Nadia has a high fibre content and is recommended for dry ginger production. It is also resistant to inclement weather which is quite a useful attribute as Nagaland has a largely monsoon climate.

I do enjoy visiting the website of that eccentric, quirky and zany US brewer - Dogfish Head. The Delaware-based brewery has been described by international beer writer Michael Jackson as "America's most interesting and adventurous small brewery". The brewery itself describes its beers as "off-centred ales for off-centred people", a mantra I quite like. I am particularly interested in two of their beers - Ginger Peach Wheat and Pangaea. The wheat beer has been brewed not only with wheat, malt and hops but also with ginger peach black tea. As the website says, why use just water? Pangaea is a different kettle of fish altogether. This has been brewed with ingredients from every continent: water from Antarctica, basmati rice from Asia, muscavado sugar from Africa, quinoa from South America, yeast from Europe, maize from North America and, finally, crystallised ginger from Australia.

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