The price of ginger has skyrocketed in recent months as the demand increased dramatically due to its health properties in treating the symptoms of various illnesses.

The root is now priced at over R300 per kilogram in some grocery stores.

Ginger has antibacterial properties and contains antioxidants, and is known for being used to treat the common cold and nausea. However with the second wave of COVID-19 in South Africa, many have seemingly joined the latest craze in using the plant to treat the symptoms of the virus.

“Ginger prices have been elevated for a while now – throughout all of last year the prices were very strong. In general, ginger’s price rises more strongly than that of any other vegetables and in fact, ginger has been the top performing vegetable in South Africa over the past few years,” a Lowveld ginger farmer told Fresh Plaza.

Dr Chantell Witten, registered dietitian at the University of the Free State and nutrition lead for the South African Civil Society for Women’s, Adolescents’ and Children’s Health (SACSoWACH), said they support the intake of plant-based foods but are concerned about the popular belief that it can be used to remedy COVID-19.

“This is pushing up prices, despite no evidence to support these claims,” she told IOL. “Given that the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is following a targeted and phased approach, the majority not included in those first phases are going to continue to use the home remedies that call for ginger, garlic and lemons.

“In the same breath, higher prices will keep consumption at bay. With a well-designed communication strategy for the vaccine rollout, people will not use home remedies in place of the vaccines.”

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