If you're a ginger lover, you may be wincing every time you buy it lately. And, if you haven't bought the aromatic, warming root for a while, prepare for a shock. It's price has more than quadrupled since around February last year.
Before Covid-19, ginger was retailing at around R70 a kilogram. Now, it's around R400.
Nishanka Mothielal of Sunshine Fruiterers told that many South African Indians are using ginger as a home remedy for Covid-19.
Corona Kashayam is not a cure
Indian fact checking website BOOM reports that a viral image that shows a handwritten recipe for a remedy in which tumeric, cloves, lemons and ginger are boiled together then drunk, is a false claim.
They said they had spoken to an Ayurvedic doctor who said a kashayam should be treated as an immunity booster, rather than as a cure for Covid-19.
And while there is no scientific proof that this is effective and it is not recommended as a treatment, ginger is in great demand. "We boil ginger with lemon and honey and some people use tumeric, water and lime."
She said she had taken ginger when she became ill and trusted it as a home remedy. She said there has also been a higher demand for garlic.
"Many people prefer the natural remedies instead of taking tablets."
She said while they were selling it for R350 per kg at the moment, some other retailers were selling it for as much as R400 per kg.
And, it seems, people are willing to pay the steep prices for their ginger.
"People come in and buy for R60 or R70."
She said that despite the rush on garlic and ginger, she believed there would not be any shortages. Another retailer agreed that ginger is extremely expensive at the moment.
"We are battling to get ginger due to the very high demand currently. Ginger is perceived to be an immune booster and therefore may assist in the fight against Covid-19."
She said ginger was retailing at around R399 per kg in outlets.
Food Lovers Market warned on their website that the price of ginger is expected to rise in the coming weeks.
"With the advent of another second Covid-19 wave, we've seen the popularity of ginger increase as consumers seek to bolster their immune system by including ginger in juices, soups and extracts."Sunshine Fruiterers' Nishanka Mothielal
"The escalation in price is due to an increase in demand and a shortage of supply, which has an influence on market prices.
"Ginger - which is a seasonal and labour-intensive crop - sees occasional supply constraints. With the advent of another second Covid-19 wave, we've seen the popularity of ginger increase as consumers seek to bolster their immune system by including ginger in juices, soups and extracts," Mothielal said.
A reader told she had been unable to find ginger at a local supermarket over three recent visits.