Benefits of African Dry Ginger You Didn’t Know

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant belonging to the family Zingiberaceae alongside turmeric (Curcuma longa) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).

Originating from South East Asia, it’s a rhizome (often referred to as ginger root) has been used for ages for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It has a strong unique smell as well as flavour.

Packed with highly beneficial phytonutrients, ginger is one of the most healthy spices in the world. It contains 2 potent bioactive substances– Gingerol and Shogaol. In fresh ginger, Gingerol is the most active biochemical ingredient. It gives its unique spiciness. Gingerol has anti-cancer, anti-fungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and gastroprotective properties. Thus, it provides the majority of the medicinal benefits of ginger.

Shogaol is the ingredient responsible for the pungent smell of ginger. When fresh ginger is dried, Gingerol is dehydrated to form Shogaol. This is why dry ginger is more pungent than its fresh counterpart. It is noteworthy that African dry ginger contains more gingerol and shogaol compounds than the Asian ginger making it more potent either as a spice or medicine.

This guide lists the five major benefits of African dry ginger.

It provides relief from a sore throat, nasal congestion, and cough

The pain associated with a sore throat is as a result of inflammation in the throat which is often caused by an infection. Ginger soothes the pain and provides some relief.

The antioxidants found in ginger fight pathogens present in the throat that could be causing a cough while also relaxing the respiratory muscles that tighten when coughing. During nasal congestion, the gingerol found in ginger thins out the mucus and reduces its production easing the discomfort the person may be suffering.

It helps fight nausea

Nausea is an uneasy feeling that often comes with the urge to throw up. A lot of conditions could cause one to feel nauseated such as morning sickness in pregnant women, motion sickness, a stomach infection, food poisoning, emotional stress, and so on.

Dry ginger is very effective in easing the symptoms of nausea. Research has proven that ginger is more effective in fighting nausea than medications and has fewer side effects. It does this by maintaining a stable digestive function and regulating the blood pressure to keep the body calm.

Ginger can treat stomach indigestion and other stomach-related issues

Ginger is a great remedy for stomach indigestion. Indigestion– medically known as dyspepsia– is any form of discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, belching, and an acidic taste in the mouth.

Studies have shown that even little doses of ginger can relieve abdominal pain related to indigestion. Ginger boosts the secretion of saliva and gastric juices to aid proper digestion. It quickens the movement of food through the digestive tract which helps to reduce cramps, irritation as well as constipation. It’s anti-inflammatory effects block enzymes that could lead to bloating.

Ginger also helps to reduce the amount of gastric acid in the stomach which could be responsible for indigestion as well as the acid reflux related to it. By preventing the acid from flowing up into the oesophagus, ginger reduces the chances of gastric acid getting to the mouth and leaving a nasty taste there.

It could help with weight loss

Ginger boosts metabolism. This helps in burning off excess fat thus resulting in weight loss. Consumption of ginger has been linked with suppression in appetite, lower cholesterol and blood sugar level. It could even reduce the buildup of fat in the arteries which contributes to high blood pressure.

Ginger has been shown to help overweight people stay fuller for longer. This prevents them from having hunger pangs that will result in eating more food than could set back weight loss. Ginger can also help in burning fat in specific areas like the belly. It has a very significant effect on the waist-to-hip ratio.

african ginger oil

Ginger improves the health of the skin and hair

Topical application of ginger on the skin has several benefits. It’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects can be used to prevent skin issues such as acne. A ginger face mask will help unclog pores and kill any bacteria that could lead to the formation of acne on the face.

Ginger is also very helpful in treating hypopigmented scars i.e scars that are lighter than the skin tone. It rejuvenates dull-looking skin by fighting free radicals and boosting collagen production which in turn improves the elasticity of the skin giving it a healthy glow.

The hair also stands a lot to gain from ginger. Ginger fights dandruff and remove all crusty flakiness in the scalp. Ginger is used to treating bald spots on the scalp as it boosts the growth of hair from follicles. It also moisturizes the scalp, makes the hair shiny and thicker.

5 Useful Products Derived from Hibiscus

Hibiscus plants are very popular as ornamental plants that beautify gardens or landscape. Their large beautiful flowers come in different colours including white, pink, red, orange, peach, and yellow. It is a versatile perennial plant native to tropical regions although the hardy ones can be found in colder climates.

A member of the family, Malvaceae, the different species of the Hibiscus plant are cultivated for various reasons. For instance, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and Hibiscus syriacus are cultivated for ornamental reasons while Hibiscus sabdariffa is cultivated for medicinal purposes.

Hibiscus can be made into a good number of products. Here are 5 useful products that can be derived from Hibiscus.

Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea is made from the dried calyces of Hibiscus. It is the most popular product derived from the plant. Hibiscus tea is widely consumed in Africa, Asia, North America, and some parts of Europe.

It has a reddish colour with a tart taste that has led to it being called ‘sour tea’. It’s flavour has been compared to that of cranberries and can be served either hot or cold.

Preparation is quite easy. The calyces are steeped in hot water to extract the flavour from them. This mixture is then sieved to remove the tea and the calyces are discarded. On its own, Hibiscus tea does not contain any calorie or caffeine but it is usually sweetened with sugar or honey which adds some calories to it.

Sometimes, the calyces are steeped with ginger, lime, or pineapples to add some extra flavour. Hibiscus tea is very rich in vitamin c and antioxidants. Studies have proven it to be effective in reducing blood pressure and blood sugar, lowering blood fat level, boosting liver health, and having moderate antibacterial properties.

Asides from being ingested, this tea can be used as a hair spray to boost hair growth and hydrate the hair. It can also be used as a face toner to remove grit from the face.

Hibiscus Powder

This is formed grinding up the dried sepals of the Hibiscus plant. It can then be made into other beneficial products.

Examples of these products are:

Face-lifting face mask: Due to its richness in antioxidants and vitamin c, Hibiscus encourages collagen production in the face as well as elastin which tighten up the face and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

It has been dubbed ‘the botox plant’ due to these benefits. This face lifting face mask can be made by mixing some kaolin clay with hibiscus powder and some water. The mask should be washed off before it dries for easy removal, and the skin should be moisturized after. The effects of the hibiscus is seen immediately as the skin looks brighter and softer.

Exfoliating scrub: By mixing Hibiscus powder with some sugar, the physical exfoliation gotten from sugar is combined with the chemical exfoliation from the AHAs in Hibiscus which make a perfect scrub to slough off dead skin cells and unclog pores in the skin.

Hibiscus Oil

Hibiscus oil is created by an infusion of Hibiscus with any appropriate oil of choice. The dried petals are soaked in oil and placed in a double boiler in order to fasten the infusion of the nutrients into the oil.

The oil is useful for both skin and hair. When infused in avocado oil or olive oil, it can be used on the face as a facial oil. It can also be infused with coconut or almond oil, then massaged into the scalp. Hibiscus oil boosts hair growth from follicles and also helps to treat dandruff and stall greying of hair. It can also be used to coat the tips of hair strands to lock in moisture which will prevent tangling and breakage.

hibiscus oil

Hibiscus Soup

This soup is common among the Western people of Nigeria, especially people from Ekiti and Ondo states. It is a traditional soup that is usually cooked on special occasions, but some people make it regularly too.

It is made from dried white Hibiscus flowers. The flowers are soaked in hot water and ashes in order to remove the tangy taste. Then, they are added to a pot that already contains egusi, fish and pepper. It is devoured with any swallow of choice like pounded yam.

Hibiscus Cordage

Cordages are ropes or cords that are used for a variety of reasons. In survival situations, cordages could come in very handy. They can be used to tie up anything, make shelter supports, trigger wire, or a fishing line.

Materials used to make cordages should be tough enough to support any load it will be required to but also be flexible enough to twist or manipulate without breaking. Some Hibiscus stems are used to create cordages as they fit these descriptions. Hibiscus tiliaceus is especially used in making tough ropes due to its hardy stem. The stems are cut and the leaves shaved off. Then, they are twisted up to make them tougher.

7 Unrivalled Advantages of African Shea Butter

Africans have used Shea Butter as a luxurious butter for centuries. The outer shells of the nuts are removed, after which the nuts are crushed, boiled and roasted into butter. The butter is then kneaded by hand in a bowl of water to separate light or ivory-coloured fat which cools and hardens to form the actual shea butter.

Shea Butter is highly rich in vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants. It contains Oleic Acid, Cinnamic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Allantoin, Vitamins E, A and F among others. Its constituents combined with its buttery easy-to-spread consistency makes it perfect for use on the skin and hair.

Here are 7 unrivalled advantages of African Shea Butter.

It is an excellent moisturizer

Shea Butter is majorly used for its moisturizing properties. Its high-fat content is what makes it such an excellent moisturizer, especially for dry skin. It blends easily into the skin and creates a barrier between it and the environment which serves to lock in moisture and maintain its hydrated state for a long period.

This especially beneficial for tough areas of the body that easily become dry, cracked, or scaly such as the knuckles, elbows, knees and feet. It provides the moisture they need while softening them and keeping them supple. Shea Butter is also an excellent lip moisturizer.

It fades and improves the appearance of stretch marks

Stretch marks are formed when the skin stretches beyond its elastic limit. This could occur during rapid weight/loss, puberty or pregnancy. Shea butter contains Vitamins A and E, as well as plant sterols. These help to prevent the destruction of collagen fibres in the skin while boosting the production of more collagen. It also has vitamin F which is important in maintaining the skin’s elasticity. The combination of these actions helps fade stretch marks and makes the skin plumper.

It also lightens dark or green-coloured stretch marks so they match the appearance of the skin around them which reduces their visibility.

It has anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties

Shea butter has Oleic acid (omega 9), Linoleic Acid( omega 6), and cinnamic acid which all have anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, Shea butter is highly beneficial in providing relief from skin inflammations such as dermatitis, eczema and rosacea.

A recently published study proved that shea butter could be just as effective in treating eczema as other medicated balms. Shea butter also has anti-ageing properties.

Asides the youthful glow it gives the skin by boosting collagen production, the vitamins A and E and polyphenols present in this butter act as antioxidants in fighting free radicals that damage the skin. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles thus improving the youthfulness of the skin.

benefits of African shea butter

It soothes the skin from various irritations

Shea Butter has skin-soothing properties. The fatty acids and cinnamic acid found in it soothe the skin by locking in moisture while the skin is healing. It has also been found to be effective in soothing sunburns, windburns and abrasions.

The absence of harsh chemicals in shea butter makes it perfect for treating skin irritations in sensitive skin including baby skin. It can be used to soothe baby eczema or diaper rash. Shaving hair with razors could also irritate the skin. Razor bumps could develop as a result of such irritation. Application of Shea butter on the irritated skin helps to soothe and heal the skin.

It repairs damaged hair and boosts hair growth

Bad weather conditions, harsh chemicals, and the sun are some of the things that are constantly waging war against our hair. If left alone, the hair becomes brittle, starts to break and falls off. Shea butter helps to repair damaged hair.

It is highly recommended in the Liquid-Oil-Cream hair moisturizing method where it acts as the cream that seals in the moisture in the hair. It provides the hair with essential nutrients that strengthens it against breakage. Also, it boosts the growth of new hair from follicles making the hair thicker, longer and shiny.

Shea butter also works to prevent damage from heat styling forming a barrier of protection between the hair and the heat tool.

It soothes joint pain and muscle ache

Shea butter has been used traditionally in West Africa to massage parts of the body that seem to ache or are in pain. Overextended muscles are easily inflamed, which leads to muscular pain.

The anti-inflammatory properties of shea butter work on the muscle to reduce any swelling that may be present as well as the pain. Joint pain also result from inflammation and Shea butter helps in the same way by soothing the inflammation.

It helps with wound healing

Due to the presence of wound healing nutrients such as Allantoin, shea butter helps facilitate the quick healing of wounds, cuts, and abrasions. The numerous fatty acids shield the wound from external irritants that could stall the healing process.

Ultimate Guide to Cashew Nuts Production in Nigeria

Cashew nuts are gotten from the cashew tree which produces both the nuts and the cashew apple.

Cashew apples are edible and rich in vitamin C. They can be eaten raw, made into fruit juice or fermented into cashew wine. The nuts are rich in unsaturated fats and protein, low in sugar, and contain a lot of fibre.

They are also a great source of antioxidants especially polyphenols and carotenoid which help to reverse damage caused by free radicals in the body. Cashew nuts are sold with the shells removed as they contain a poison that can cause dermatitis.

The shells are used to produce a liquid called Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL). This liquid is used in paints, brake linings of vehicles, lubricants, varnishings, waterproofing, and so on.

Like the apple, the nut can also be eaten on its own, roasted or processed into cashew cheese or butter.

History of cashew nuts in Nigeria

Cashew nuts were first introduced in Nigeria in the early 16th century. Cashew trees help protect the land against erosion and deforestation, and this was one of the main reasons they were grown at first, especially in the Eastern region of the country.

The first plantations in the country were situated in areas like Eruwa and upper Ogun in the Western region, and Mbala and Oji in the Eastern region. The growth of the business was initially slow due to mismanagement and negligence on the part of the government, but it eventually picked up pace in the ’60s.

Currently, cashew is being cultivated in 19 states in the country according to the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN). These states are Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kogi, Niger, Nassarawa, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Taraba and Kwara. However, cashew can be grown virtually anywhere in the country.

Cashew Production

Currently, Nigeria produces 120,000 tons of Cashew nuts annually with about 320,000 hectares of land being cultivated for the crop. She ranks as the 12th highest producer of cashew nuts in the world.

The country used to rank a lot higher; in fact, it ranked second in the world in 2004 and between 2010-2012. Lack of funding and processing facilities, as well as infrastructural deficiencies, crippled the sector. Another problem is the fact that cashew trees play host to a wide variety of pests and diseases.

From its roots to its stems, branches, flowers and even the cashew apple, no part of the tree is immune to an infestation. Examples of pests that infest them are Analeptes trifasciata (Cashew stem girdler) that affects the stems, Pachnoda cordata drury (Fruit scrapper) that infests the fruits, Selenothrips rubrocinctus (Red-banded thrips), and so on. These pests can wreak so much havoc that an infestation by just the cashew stem girdler can result in a loss of about 55% in the eventual yield.

Cashew trees are also affected by a good number of fungal diseases. Examples of these are Lasiodiplodia theobromae and Botryodiplodia theobromine that cause floral and shoot die-back, Pythium ultimum that leads to root rot of the seedlings, and Penicillium spp that causes the cashew nuts to decay. Lasiodiplodia theobromae is specially notorious as it can cause up to 70% loss in the nut yield as well as shoot death.

Cashew Harvesting

Cashew trees usually start producing fruits between 18-36 months of planting. The fruits start to develop 6-8 weeks after pollination has occurred. The nuts develop first while the apples develop 2 weeks before the fruit falls.

Some farmers prefer to pluck the fruits before they fall to prevent rotting and theft. However, you can obtain high-quality nuts by separating the nuts from freshly fallen. The fresh ones can be dried in the sun.

dried cashew nuts

Distribution and how to Buy from Local Farmers

The Nigerian cashew sector is dominated by peasant farmers (they hold more than 60% of the cultivated land). These farmers supply their nuts to small traders who in turn sell to local buying agents. These local buying agents supply big companies outside the country where processing takes place. Cashew nuts account for 6-7% of the country’s non-oil earnings.

Before they can be exported, the seeds must meet certain criteria. They must be free from debris and insect damage. Also, must be thoroughly dried with a moisture content of less than 8.5%. The percentage of defects and impurities must be less than 5% for every 1kg sample. These criteria are put in place to control the quality of nuts that leave the country.

About 70-80% of the cashew nuts produced in Nigeria are exported raw. The processing industry is severely underdeveloped for now. This has a large impact on price as processed cashew nuts are worth more than three times the unprocessed ones.

Online marketplaces like Cokodeal allow you to easily connect with local farmers or traders with quality Cashew produce for sale.

7 Characteristics of a Genuine Seller of Commodities

Finding a genuine seller of commodities is not an entirely easy feat. The market is riddled with sellers who are selling a fake product, not reliable or do not actually have the products. However, with the right information, genuine sellers can easily be identified.

Here are some characteristics buyers should look out for when searching for genuine sellers of commodities.

The seller has a track record of dealing with bigger businesses

It takes a lot of expertise, persistence, and credibility to sell to big businesses. Hence, sellers that have a track record of selling to such businesses are usually more reliable and credible. These sellers are usually the real owners of their products, not fake brokers that run around with the client’s money without having the commodities they claim to have.

They are also very good at building lasting relationships with customers. Big businesses often look to form long relationships with their sellers – not just to make spot buys. They want sellers that are conversant with their products and can be called on at any time should they run into a problem. Patronizing such sellers is always a good idea.

They are registered on a marketplace that verifies local farmers and sellers

Marketplaces verify sellers on their platform as a form of protection for both sellers and buyers. It makes it difficult for fraudsters to pose as sellers on these marketplaces and defrauding buyers in the process.

To get verified on a marketplace, sellers are required to submit personal information like email address, house and business addresses, unexpired ID card, and passport. Official company details, financial information, and tax numbers are also often requested for. All these requirements serve to ensure that the seller is genuine so buyers can be assured that they are in good hands.

Recognized by the country’s export council

Export councils register sellers who are genuinely interested in exporting their commodities out of the country. They are regulatory bodies that promote and regulate export trade as well as implement export polices.

They also provide professional assistance to exporters. Such areas include export procedures, documentation, financing, quality control, export packaging, costing, pricing, and so on. When a seller is registered under the country’s export council, their goods are subject to proper inspection by specific agencies.

These goods will not be shipped unless they meet the required standard of quality, have complete documentation and meet the buyers’ expectation. Hence, the buyer is protected from counterfeit commodities or other fraudulent activities.

Has an export license

Export licenses are documents issued by the appropriate licensing agency which grants sellers permission to export their commodities out of a country without any hassle. The license is only issued after a careful review of the export transaction and all prerequisites have been met. Commodities shipped without an export license are seized at the customs which serves as a loss to the buyer.

Registered under a trade body in their country

Trade bodies are non-profit organizations formed by businesses in the same industry. They are formed to protect the interest of their members, promote trade laws, and be the voice of the industry against unfair legislation.

Trade bodies prescribe the code of ethics for their industry in order to discourage unethical behaviour. They also an avenue for like-minded individuals to network, share ideas and make connections that would be impossible without the association. An important thing they offer is certifications and licenses. These provide a sense of reliability in the minds of customers. It assures them that they are dealing with a genuine seller.

Communicates clearly and is consistent

A seller that lacks proper communication skills is not one that any buyer will want to do business with. Effective communication builds trust and emotional connection between the seller and the buyer. The buyer can comfortably discuss their needs with the seller and the seller can effectively alleviate their concerns and make them feel valued. Consistency is also a very important characteristic. A consistent seller is one that continuously delivers genuine commodities, knows what’s going on in the market and is always looking for ways to improve. A buyer is sure can rely on such seller.

Understands the product

Genuine sellers understand their products. They know everything there is to know about them. They know the features, functions, several applications, advantages and disadvantages, lifecycle, among others.

The seller is thus able to present the benefits of the commodity accurately to the buyer in terms that make sense. Sellers that have a proper understanding of their products. And it shows how invested they are in the products and how passionate they are about it.