Virginia farmers enhance bottom line with niche crops
Nearly one third of Virginia’s 44,800 family farms earn less than $1,000 in sales annually. However, small farm operations with less than 10 acres have the potential to earn significant farm income through direct sales to consumers of niche crops such as fresh ginger and turmeric, which are in consumer demand due to the anti-inflammatory benefits of including fresh ginger and turmeric in a balanced diet. Market analyses determined the U.S. ginger market will be worth $4.12 billion by 2020, with the U.S. turmeric market growing to $433 million.
As a result of Virginia State University research, education and Extension outreach efforts, 50 small-market farmers grew 750 to 1,050 pounds of fresh ginger and 300 to 450 pounds of fresh turmeric in 2018. Participating farmers had total gross sales of a minimum of $70,000, which translates to $1,400 of additional farm income for each participating farm. Retail prices for fresh ginger ranged from $5 to $7 per pound and for fresh turmeric, $13 to $21 per pound. Of the 110 individuals who attended the 2018 statewide ginger and turmeric field day, 88 individuals stated they were considering growing and potentially selling fresh ginger and turmeric in 2019. Prior to the introduction of growing fresh ginger and turmeric in Virginia, limited-resource small market farmers were not aware of the ease of production and lucrative market potential of these niche crops.