Turmeric and Ginger – Jaintia Hills North-East India

Farmers

(Left): JoiTang/(Right): Wanbor

In this supply-chain, ginger will come from the entrepreneur Wanbor. This kind-hearted entrepreneur works with around two hundred smallholder farmers. Already now the more he makes, the more he pays his farmers. Turmeric will come from a proud female farmer and community leader, Joitang, who works with the entrepreneur Remdor. She has been growing this high-quality variety (Lakadong) turmeric for thirty years and helps other women in her community to do the same.

The Spices

“Lakadong has a very high percentage of curcumin, in this case 8% (average is 3%)”

Turmeric harvest

The Jaintia Hills district in the Meghalaya area in North-East India has a higher altitude than the rest of the North-East, therefore it is cooler but almost never under 10°C. It rains a lot and the soil is clayey. These are perfect conditions for rhizome spices as turmeric and ginger. The ginger variety that is mainly grown in the Jaintia Hills is called: Nadia. It has a very concentrated sharp and fresh ginger flavour, that will give a tingling feeling in your mouth long after. The area is unique for one variety of turmeric: Lakadong. Many have tried to grow it elsewhere but all failed. Lakadong has a very high percentage of curcumin, in this case 8% (average is 3%), the substance that gives it the colour and sharp taste. The Lakadong flavour has a hint of flower and a sharp citrus aftertaste instead of bitter. Many claim that it has many health advantages. Until recently Lakadong was mainly homegrown for personal consumption, but in recent years small entrepreneurs saw opportunities for this unique product, which is also stimulated by the government.

“Anything you put in the ground in the North-East will grow.”

Background

North-East India was once one of the richest regions of the British colony because of its tea production and fertile soil. A regional saying is: “Anything you put in the ground in the North-East will grow.” This economic prosperity was disrupted by decades of violence, but the beginning of the new millennium brought peace and stability, and the economy slowly started to restore itself. In the 1980s coal mining became a booming business in the Jaintia Hills. However, The National Green Tribunal (NGT) of India has banned coal mining in the area in 2014, because of the heavy pollution of water sources and dangerous working conditions. This ban will not go overnight and is difficult to control. Yet the number of coal mines has decreased, creating a need for a new source of income. The government wants to stimulate the development of Lakadong production to provide an economic pull-factor away from the coal mine business.

“The government wants to stimulate the development of Lakadong production to provide an economic pull-factor away from the coal mine business.”

They are doing so by distributing Lakadong rhizomes at low cost, and have also set up a modern post-harvest centre in which rhizomes can be dried using solar energy. However, this centre is not operational as there is not enough market yet for this high-quality organic produced product. The Good Spice and the social enterprise Jeev Anksh have combined forces to create this market. Hopefully, on the long-term this contributes to the rise of an alternative booming business, replacing the polluting coal mining industry. In this context, the supply of The Good Spice in the Jaintia Hills looks as follows.

  Route

Value chain

Friday 15th May 2020: when the prices are confirmed by all parties, a transparent overview will be posted.