Balod district in Chhattisgarh has for years been a treasure trove of rare medicinal plants, spices, agricultural produce and exotic flowers. The rich plant diversity seen in this district has not been found anywhere else in Central India.
This district has a sizeable tribal population who have perfected the art of living harmoniously with nature. The forest dwellers have adapted remarkably well to the changing times and yet, strive to maintain their invaluable knowledge and expertise in the conservation of forests and natural resources.
It is perhaps for this reason only that Balod has been able to sustain itself through the centuries fighting against rapid exploitation and destruction of their natural habitat. One of the most famous crops of Balod is its ginger that is grown using natural and organic farming techniques.
Balod is blessed with dry summers, cool winters and wet rainy months as well as a mixture of clay, clay loam and sandy loam soil rich in organic matter that is ideal for ginger cultivation. Native as well as hybrid varieties are cultivated by small and marginal farmers. Mixed cropping is preferred by farmers and ginger is grown with bitter gourd, fenugreek, red spinach, amaranth, tomato, brinjal and others.
Traditional methods to collect rainwater, of setting up machaan (trellis system to grow creepers and ground vegetables simultaneously even in small patches of land), of mulching, of natural and organic pesticides and others have gone a long way to maintain the quality, productivity per hectare and average annual production of ginger.
Balod ginger has the right amount of pungency, gingerol and volatile oil content for value-added products like ginger tea, ginger powder, dry ginger powder, ginger paste, ginger pickle and others. Oleoresin extracted from dried ginger is used in many industries. Dried ginger is used to manufacture soft drinks, ginger beer, brandy and wine. Ginger oil is used as a flavouring agent in confectionery, to make perfumes and certain medicated ointments.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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