Sunday, 27 November 2011

A Healthy Return, Ginger In Winter & The Rise Of Alcoholic Ginger Beer

Last Monday the Sri Lankan president made another call for the country to become self-sufficient in ginger whilst delivering his 2012 budget to parliament. His vision of "food security" follows an earlier government initiative which offered fertiliser subsidies to ginger farmers.

Back in June I wrote about the Fijian government's plan to offer squatters the opportunity to become ginger farmers. For one community of 25 ex-squatter families, they have just learned of the projected return from next March's harvest - $40,000. The families were previously squatting on the Jittu Estate, a district of the capital Suva known for its links to crime and unemployment. They relocated to Lomaivuna, an area known for its ginger farming, in July last year as the first beneficiaries of the Lomaivuna Integrated Agriculture Rehabilitation programme. Here they planted five acres each of ginger, cassava and dalo. It is hoped that soon the families will move to another 90 acres of farmland in nearby Vanuakula. You can read more about this story in the following two Fiji Times articles "40K from ginger sales" and "Squatters progress under farming scheme".

It's been a quiet week on the Crabbie's front. The only thing I found was a press release stating that the drink was being exported to Australia but I had already mentioned that three weeks ago. I expect another company announcement this coming week. Why? Because we didn't have one last week!

I found an interesting statistic the other day on the Waitrose Media Centre site. Waitrose, for those of you who don't know, is an upmarket supermarket chain and the sixth largest grocery retailer in the UK. We've known for a while about the rapid rise in alcoholic ginger beer sales in the UK but I was astounded to read that sales of this type of drink increased by 380pc during 2010 in Waitrose stores. I wouldn't be surprised if the Crabbie's launch the previous year had a lot to do with it.

Unfortunately there have been more suicides amongst ginger farmers in the Indian state of Kerala. A common feature of this crisis seems to be a demand for the farmers to make a loan repayment at the same time as the market price for ginger has plummeted. The fact that rubber farmers further south are still receiving a good price for their product and are exhibiting a lower suicide rate might lend credence, in some people's eyes, to the loan argument. This crisis has now developed enough for a difference of opinion to emerge between the state government and the main opposition party. I'm not going to get involved in that. But I will ask that help, whether from the state, charities or farming organisations, be given to the poor widows who must now contend with managing the business as well running the family home and, of course, grieving.

The Times Of India had a short article extolling the virtues of consuming ginger in winter. I cannot confirm the efficacy of ginger on health but there must be something in it if it has been used for centuries.

Here is a Christmas gift suggestion (and I'm not hinting for me unless you really want to) - The King's Ginger Truffles from Charbonnel et Walker. I will say that I don't earn any commission from this suggestion. In fact, I've never even tried the truffles. But, as I've mentioned before, I do like the drink.

And to finish I think that I may well start a regular section containing the latest ginger products to appear on the market. Last week saw the arrival of a ginger- flavoured Cactus Jack's Schnapps and a white stilton with chocolate and ginger from Long Clawson.

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