It is thought that essential oil made from ginger is popular because of its decongestant and antimicrobial qualities. This explains its use as a decongestant and antibiotic.  African ginger’s natural growing range is in Mpumalanga and Limpopo Province.

The Department of Science and Technology’s Innovation for Poverty Alleviation Programme has allocated almost R5 million for the first year of a project launched in response to a possible decline in the wild population of African ginger (Siphonochilus aethiopicus), which is being sold via formal and informal channels.

Although this rare plant is easily cultivated through micro-propagation and there are a few small-scale cultivation efforts, there are no commercial nurseries for the plant.  The project will establish a commercial-scale nursery for ‘hardened’ material using propagation material from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) (www.arc.agric.za) facility at Roodeplaat, and micro-propagation material from a
commercial nursery until a successful micro-propagation protocol is developed by the ARC.

The rate of growth of plants from these sources will be compared, and planting of propagated and micro-propagated plants will be increased yearly to establish a 20 ha plantation, with 5 000 plants per hectare.  This project will create over 80 jobs.