Innovation needed to boost the country’s garlic production

Published November 5, 2020, 1:39 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) is pushing for technology-based innovations in garlic production as the Philippines still imports 90 percent of the country’s demand for this particular farm commodity.

In a study, SEARCA said raising Philippines’ garlic sufficiency level is possible through a “package of technology”, which mainly involves good seeds and fertilization using gibberelic acid and organic fertilizer.

Improved Ilocos native garlic

Right now, the Philippines is still far from being self-sufficient in garlic. In 2018, the country imported more than 10 percent of the country’s demand for this agricultural product.  

China, India, and Hong Kong are the major suppliers of garlic to the Philippines.

SEARCA, through its Emerging for Innovation for Growth Department (EIGD), is promoting technology-based innovation among local enterprises such as fertilization using gibberelic acid and organic fertilizer.

The study was made in partnership with the DA and Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).

“Results of cost and returns analysis showed an increase in net income with application of gibberelic acid at 36 and 56 days after planting at P104,823 per hectare compared with no application at all at P48,363 per hectare,” SEARCA said.

Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, work double duty by providing required macro and micronutrients while improving the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soil, it added.

“A balanced blend of organic fertilizer provides nutrient sources for important beneficial microorganisms and earthworms living in the soil,” SEARCA further said.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Ilocos Region (Region 1) has already crafted a revival program to raise garlic sufficiency.

The Ilocos Region is the largest garlic-producing region in the Philippines, contributing more than 65 percent to the country’s total production.

It also has the best comparative advantage in garlic production because of its agroclimatic suitability.

However, the region experienced a decline not just in volume of production but also in the area planted and harvested for garlic in the past several years due to competition.

The downward trend in productivity is also attributed to low-yielding varieties and high postharvest losses.

However, recent field tests have shown that native garlic varieties can catch up in competitiveness with imported garlic which has been hitting a yield of a high of 10 to 15 MT per hectare such as that in China.

An improved native garlic variety, the Batanes white, is seen to raise Philippines’ garlic production having yielded the highest 4.9 metric tons (MT) per hectare, even posting a yield as much as 9.3 MT in a second crop in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte.

“Two cropping of garlic per year is an economic and production potential when planted as direct seeded on September 15 for the first crop and December or early January for the second crop in upland areas of Pasuquin where there is adequate supply of irrigation water,” the SEARCA study said.