Ilocos Norte garlic production exceeds local demand

BATAC CITY, Ilocos Norte – Despite a major setback it suffered in 2013, garlic production in Ilocos Norte has recovered tremendously in the last four years with an annual aggregate yield of 6,934.49 metric tons (MT), which was much higher than the actual average demand of 705.17 MT.

Luz Ortal, Senior Agriculturist of the Ilocos Norte Provincial Agriculture Office said the figure translated a 903.37 percent sufficiency level for the commodity. It means the province is now self-sufficient in garlic.

Ortal, who presented the situation of the garlic industry in the province during the Garlic Technology Forum and Partnership Meeting held at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) here last May 22, said there were many reasons why the production of garlic declined in the last five years. These include limited areas allotted to garlic and the late planting dates which were the result of unpredictable weather.

Research showed that garlic, which is not a perennial crop in the Ilocos region, is best planted between October 15 to later part of November. For other varieties such as Mindoro 1 and Cabuyao, late planting can be done until December 15, only to avoid total production failure due to crop’s vulnerability to bulb rot diseases and photosensitivity.

Also, there had been a steady increase on the price of production inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides in the last few years and the insufficient supply of quality planting materials.

“There had also been a very low and unstable price of local garlic due to importation and manipulation of middlemen, including the insufficiency of modern technology on processing to produce quality products,” Ortal said.

Speaking before 80 researchers, farmers, policy makers, and Japanese guests, Ortal reported that from a total land area of 3,050 hectares devoted to garlic in the last eight years, it went down to only 1,740 hectares in the last three years.

Local garlic production was also affected by massive importation and smuggling of garlic products from Taiwan and other unknown ASEAN regions by unscrupulous agricultural traders and middlemen which almost killed the price of the local produce.

From PHP164 farm gate price per kilo, farmers have complained of the traders’ controlled prevailing price of PHP91 per kilo in the last three years.

“Despite of the previous situation, however, Ilocos Norte garlic remains the top producer to the national garlic output,” Ortal said.

Records show that Ilocos Norte shared 6,284 metric tons of garlic bulbs to the 9.133 metric tons production output in the country, or roughly 69 percent. Occidental Mindoro ranks second with a production of 2,012 metric tons, or 22.03 percent, followed by Nueva Ecija, Quezon Province with 324, 268MT and Ilocos Sur with 245 metric tons.

Because of the suitable weather, the province has the widest land area devoted to garlic which is about 2,130 hectares. Most of the garlic plantations are located in Pasuquin covering 620 hectares, with an annual average yield of 2,382 metric tons.

Other garlic producing areas in Ilocos Norte with their corresponding average annual yields in metric tons are Vintar, 889; Sarrat,332; Burgos,399; San Nicolas, 297; Paoay, 315; Badoc, 171; Bacarra, 233; Pinili,175; Bangui,170; Batac City,150; and Laoag City, 108.5.

Aside from Laoag City which has the highest garlic consumption of 114.6 metric tons in a year, other municipalities which need a remarkable bulk of the harvest are Batac, Dingras, San Nicolas and Bacarra. These towns need to consume at least 56.41, 39.85, 37.45, and 35.05 tons of garlic bulbs a year, respectively.

Meanwhile, the towns of Dumalneg, Carasi, Adams, Nueva Era, and Burgos, which have populations of 1,837, 1,536, 1,629, 8,001, and 9,382, respectively, only have average yearly consumptions of 1.91, 1.60, 1.69, 8.32, and 9.76 metric tons of garlic bulbs, respectively.

There are eight high yielding garlic varieties that are well adapted in Ilocos Norte – the Ilocos White, Ilocos Pink, Nueva Ecija Pink, Nueva Ecija White, Batanes White, Batangas White, Cabuyao, and Mindoro I.

These varieties can produce an average of 4.5 tons per hectare, but it can also reach the yield potential of 6 tons per hectare if given the proper cultural management practices.

Sold at PHP150 per kilo, the 6-ton yield can give the farmer a gross income of PHP900,000 per hectare. Deducting the production cost of PHP85,000, a garlic farmer can earn a substantial PHP815,000 net profit. Reynaldo Andres/PNA