In 2016, the UCF gave out 3,840 kg of ginger rhizomes to 38 farmers’ groups [comprising of 336 farmers]. As ginger requires skills that most farmers are learning for the first time, the farmers have initially chosen to work in groups, rather than individually. The idea is that, thereafter, each farmer shall grow the ginger in their own gardens—using the ginger rhizomes and skills gained from the first year’s work.

Most small farmers here own 2 – 3 acres of land. Many have even smaller sizes. These farmers cannot sell their produce to larger buyers, as these buyers only need producers that can provide large tonnages on a sustained basis. By pooling together our farmers’ ginger and marketing it under a single umbrella, we are creating a combined production that can attract such buyers. This helps the small farmers to get better prices and high-value markets that they couldn’t access before.

The UCF shall directly put each participating household above the poverty line right from Year 1, with incomes of at least $2,600 per farmer in the first year alone, which is $7/day. This means, if a farmer only doubles their work and plants 40 kg of ginger rhizomes in Year 2, that will earn them $5,200 in Year 2, averaging out at $14/day.

Also, marketing of our farmers’ produce is the responsibility of the UCF. And so, to counter the volatility of markets/demand for fresh produce; achieve market scale and help our farmers get higher prices, the UCF now wants to start producing value-added food products, such as ginger ale . Our next challenge therefore is set up a Food & Beverage offshoot to handle the part of value-addition. See our Concept Note.