Senate weighs in on deadly disease affecting ginger production

Sharon EboesomiOctober 10, 20233 min

The motion sponsor described the deadly disease as a public health risk, which may infect human beings.

The Senate has called on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to contain the outbreak of a deadly disease affecting ginger production in Southern Kaduna State.

The call sequels a motion on the “Urgent need to address the outbreak of a deadly disease affecting ginger production in Southern Kaduna State”, sponsored by Senator Sunday Marshall Katung (PDP, Kaduna South).

Presenting the motion, Senator Katung noted that ginger has been in existence in the Southern part of Kaduna State since about 1927, and has helped in alleviating poverty in the state due to its significant impact on revenue generation and farmers’ income.

He also noted Kaduna State ranks the highest in ginger production in Nigeria, contributing to Nigeria’s place as one of the largest producers of ginger in the world, with a production average of more than 300,000 tonnes during the five-year period 2014-2018, and a global market share of about 11 percent, trailing only India.

He added that as a subset of the agricultural sector, ginger production has a significant impact on revenue generation and farmers’ income, thereby reducing the rate of poverty amongst the local farmers of southern Kaduna and the country at large.

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he said, “Apart from its revenue-generating potential, the consumption of ginger has many health benefits ranging from the prevention of stomach ulcers, the reduction of nausea and vomiting amongst pregnant women, to chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients.”

The lawmaker lamented that “the 2023 ginger season in Southern Kaduna State has suffered a significant setback due to an outbreak of fungi pathogens infection destroying over 2,500 hectares of farmlands estimated at 10 Billion Naira across seven Local Government Areas of southern Kaduna State, thereby significantly threatening Nigeria’s position on the world chart of ginger production.”

According to him, this devastating and unprecedented ginger pandemic affects Nigeria’s non-oil export performance and is already affecting the lives of many individuals within the affected communities of southern Kaduna because ginger is their source of livelihood.

“The public health risks of this deadly disease are disturbing because research has revealed that organisms that affect plants may develop some sort of host jumping, with the mutation or development of the mechanism switching over to the host, and the pathogen that was earlier infecting plants changing and infecting human beings,” he added.

Contributing to the motion, Senator Babangida Hussaini (APC, Jigawa North-West) urged the lawmakers to accord the motion the urgency it requires to ensure the ginger sector is not hampered.

Other senators who supported the motion are; Senator Titus Zam (APC, Benue North), Kelvin Chukwu (LP, Enugu East), and Darlington Nwokocha (LP, Abia Central).

Following debates, the Senate mandated its Committee on Agricultural Production and Rural Development to interface with the hierarchy of the National Agricultural Quarantine Services and its supervisory Ministry, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security towards conducting an immediate on-the-spot assessment tour of all affected areas of the ginger pandemic in Southern Kaduna state.

It also called on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to immediately coordinate surveillance systems to collect, analyze, and interpret data on the disease, towards the prevention of the further spread of phytonosis.

Further, it mandated NEMA to immediately, and as a matter of particular urgency, provide palliatives to the affected ginger farmers of Southern Kaduna whose means of livelihood have been completely crippled by the disease that has destroyed their production of the rhizome.

 

Sharon Eboesomi

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