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Rojina saves her ginger crops using Trichoderma

Rojina Khatiwada, 23 years of age, is a ginger farmer from Khatiwada Village in Padampokhari, Makwanpur – a close-knit community of about 40 households where most inhabitants are related to each other. Rojina has been involved in ginger farming since she was about 13 years old. Married at the age of 15, she now lives with her in-laws and has two school-going children. The joint family has about 2 bighas (1.35 Hectare) of land of which about 7 kattha (0.233 Hectare) is used for ginger farming and the rest is used to farm maize, barley and wheat. The family’s main source of income is from ginger and their meager livestock.

Rojina and her neighbors help each other during plantation and harvest seasons. Most men in the village work in urban cities as drivers, so it’s usually the women who take care of planting and managing their ginger crops.

Healthy ginger intercropped with maize Rojina in her farm

For the past few years, ginger farmers in the community have suffered great losses due to a disease called rhizome rot – a fungal infection that spreads rot in the rhizome seed, causing the leaves to wilt and turn yellow, completely destroying the plant and often spreading to the entire crop. When Rojina and her neighbors sought help from the local Agro-Vet, Beej Bhandar, they were told that there was no cure for the disease and that the best they could do was discard the rotten plants and take the loss. Rojina’s family lost about 10 quintals (1,000 kg) of ginger seed due to rhizome rot last year alone, which means that the family suffered a loss of at least 3,000kg of yield from the disease. Altogether, on average, the family has likely borne a loss of as much as Rs 120,000 (4000kg * Rs 30 per kg, assuming the average price of ginger to be Rs 30 per kg in a given year). This is a significant loss for an agricultural family and does not account for the time and labor lost during ginger cultivation, or the opportunity cost of growing a different cash crop.

In March 2013, Rojina attended a demonstration on disease management in ginger that was organized by Crop Pro Tech (CPT) – a private company that sells agricultural inputs. Earlier this year, CPT received technical training from Mercy Corps on ginger disease management under the Nepal Market Development Program (NMDP). Following the training, CPT conducted farmer level demonstrations with technical support from Mercy Corps. One of these demonstrations was held on a local farmer’s plot and focused on explaining to Rojina and her neighbors about the causes, symptoms and management of Rhizome Rot, which is caused by fungal and bacterial infestations. They were also taught about pest control in ginger. Rojina learned about Trichoderma and Bacteriamycin, as well as the use of Neem Cake to deal with all of these problems. She then went home and applied this new knowledge and the products she learned about on her own crops.

When asked about her opinion on the effectiveness of the products and information promoted by CPT, Rojina said that she was very happy with the effect of the products on her ginger crop so far, although she has only recently completed her early harvest and is waiting to see the final effect after a few months. If this year goes well, Rojina plans to continue using these products in the future. She believes that if farmers are aware and careful in using the products from the early stages of field preparation and planting, the products will prove effective and well worth the small cost.

After coming to the demonstrations, Rojina shared what she learned with her sister-in-law, who has since been using the products herself and has personally seen the benefits. Her mother-in-law, on the other hand, did not attend the training and is now sorry she didn’t. She has already started noticing the yellowing of some of her crop – the sure early sign that she will experience perhaps severe losses in the coming weeks and months.

Rojina says that, although the process of disease management requires a lot of care and hard work, she is ready to do it if it saves her crop and thus also her family’s income.

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