Sunday, 23 September 2012

Malawi Shortage, Maldive Ginger Beer, Organic Ginger & Tigers

This isn't a good time for ginger ale drinkers in Malawi. The Nyasa Times reported that Carlsberg Malawi, the country's main supplier of soft drinks (including ginger ale) as well as the expected alcoholic beers, is suffering from the twin effects of a disconnected water supply and a shortage of bottles. Could it be any worse? Incidentally, Carlsberg Malawi was the first Carlsberg brewery outside of Denmark when it opened in 1968.

Two year ago Ceylon Cold Stores Limited launched its Elephant House Ginger Beer in the Maldives through the distributor Lily International. Lanka Business Today has reported that the drink has made significant progress in being distributed to all of the leading resorts. Elephant House Dry Ginger Ale has also been well received.

Meghalaya is a state in north east India. It is known for an abundance of acidic soil which is ideal for organic agriculture. Hence the state's designation as part of India's organic hub along with Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. I understand that many years of organic matter decay has contributed to the suitability for organic farming. For a country which produces and consumes huge quantities of ginger it is understandable that this region has been chosen to grow organic ginger. It is so important that the state government has organised organic ginger training courses to raise awareness, according to The Shillong Times.

Still in north east India and a potential clash between conservationists and ginger farmers. The Kukis, an ethic group also found in north west Burma and parts of Bangladesh, have asked the local council not to go ahead with a proposed tiger reserve of over 1,650 as it will affect the livelihood of 50,000 farmers and farm workers, many of whom are involved with the production of ginger. The Kukis say that 80 percent of the reserve is currently used for growing ginger. (Source: Telegraph India).

It may seem hard to believe but ginger farmers in some parts of Bhutan are throwing their produce away because they cannot find porters to take the harvest to market, according to the BBS broadcasting agency. It's both ridiculous and tragic.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ginger Beer Battered Fish, Organic Ginger & Mountain Water

Congratulations to Nick Attfield and The Fish Hut, his award-winning fish and chip van in Southwold, Suffolk. He has just won the Best Main Dish award for his Lowestoft Longline-Caught Cod In Ginger Beer Batter at the British Street Food Awards 2012.

I've just been reading an extract from Seaports of India and Ceylon by Allister Macmillan (published in 1925 I think). Remember, I read anything and everything about ginger. Anyway, there is a page on the New Colombo Ice Company from what was then known as Ceylon. The company made a non-alcoholic ginger beer under the Elephant brand name in amber glass bottles. It switched from stone to glass for hygiene reasons and because, as Macmillan says, "fearful things creep into stone bottles, and remain there undetected in death, however great care may be exercised in prevention".

In 1941, New Colombo Ice Company changed its name to Ceylon Cold Stores Limited which it had bought in 1934. In the 21st century, the Ceylon Cold Stores flagship product is Elephant Ginger Beer (commonly known as EGB). It is still sold in amber glass bottles.

Organic farming is becoming very popular in Uganda, according to a recent article in All Africa. The National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda represents the organic production of a wide range of crops including ginger. These crops, which command a higher price than non-organic products, are sent for export with the assistance of the Uganda Export Promotions Board. The export of organic ginger could be extremely profitable as it is becoming highly sought-after. At present, the major organic ginger exporters are China and India. The highly regarded organic ginger from Hawaii tends to be marketed on the US mainland.

The North Wales Brewery has an interesting unique selling point. Based on a hillside at Moelfre, near Abergele, the brewery produces a range of drinks from real ales to non-alcoholic ginger beer. But what makes the drinks of interest, according to the Daily Post, is the water. After becoming disenchanted with their domestic water supply, the owners brought in a water diviner to locate an alternative source. They eventually found water at 500ft and now pump up enough through the granite and slate to produce 3,000-4,000 pints a week.

Nepalese ginger exports through the Birgunj check point to India in the last fiscal year set a new record, according to The Himalayan. The 7,834 metric tonnes, worth Rs. 250.6 million, was three times higher than the previous year. Birgunj is Nepal's principal import and export point as well as being a major business centre.

Fresh Plaza reported on the big decline in the production of root crops in the Philippines during the first quarter of this year. It didn't state the reason why but two crops managed to buck this trend: ginger and sweet potato. What the article didn't mention was that ginger is often intercropped with sweet potato with both being grown under young coconut trees.

There's bad news for food shoppers in Pakistan, according to The News International. Apparently, now that summer season crops are giving way to winter season crops, prices of vegetables and salads have skyrocketed. The wholesale price of ginger has increased by 16%, a not inconsiderable sum.