BATAC, Ilocos Norte — The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in this town is leading seven other development agencies in Ilocos Norte in stepping up moves to enhance the capability of farmers in producing high quality garlic bulbs that might serve as excellent seed stocks to sustain the province’s garlic industry.
Part of this development effort is its commitment to train all farmers in the province on the latest garlic production technologies. Last October 26-28, it trained some 160 farmers from Pasuquin, Vintar, Bacarra, Bangui, Badoc and Pinili who are willing to plant garlic this month. The series of on-site trainings also serves as requirement before they could avail of an interest-free loan of garlic planting materials through the university’s Seed Dispersal Project (SDP).
The SDP, which is under the management of the MMSU Extension Directorate (ED), is in line with the university’s project dubbed “Revitalizing the Garlic Industry Through Sustainable Support System.”
Going through in the same vein is the effort to expand the garlic hectarage and strengthen the linkages among farmers, government agencies and non-government organizations so that the producers’ marketing scheme will be improved.
The other agencies involved are the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Unit 1(DA RFU-1), Ilocos Agriculture, Aquatic, and Resources Research and Development Consortium, the Garlic Growers Association of Ilocos Norte, Philippine Rice Research Institute – Batac, Agricultural Training Institute, and the Bureau of Plant Industry.
Dr. Aris Reynold Cajigal, director of MMSU’s ED, said the trainings are the main components of the SDP so that farmers will learn the latest garlic production technologies that might help them increase their yield and income.
Since 2013, the DA is tapping the expert services of MMSU to deliver the latest garlic production technology to farmers. Last year, it allotted some P10 million for a sustainable seed support project for them. Under the project, the university gives an interest-free loan of garlic planting materials to farmers, which shall be returned to MMSU one month after harvest.
Every year, the university is planting five hectares of its more than 200-hectare production area in the main campus solely for the production of high quality garlic bulbs of Ilocos White, Mexican, Cabuyao, Ilocos Pink, and Tan Bolters varieies.
Also last year, it distributed more than 33 tons of high quality garlic planting materials to about 748 farmers from the seven garlic-producing towns of Ilocos Norte. Most of the 33-ton seedstock loan was produced by MMSU, while a portion of it were bought from reputable garlic growers in the province using the P10 million that was released by DA. That was the reason why garlic production hectarage in the province has increased to 1,993 hectares from the previous 1,796 hectares.
Meanwhile, Dr. Prima Fe R. Franco, officer-in-charge of the Office of the MMSU President, urged the farmers to support this program of improving the province’s reputation as producer of biggest and high quality garlic bulbs in the country.
“Although the imported garlic is destroying the price of locally-produced, we should still raise the standard of our own product in terms of quality and volume,” she said adding that “we may be left behind in the size, but the quality is way above those being produced in other countries.”
She assured the farmers that the university is continuing its efforts to improve its researches on garlic which will include some value-added products such as garlic oil, powder, medicine, and other pharmaceutical products.
Records from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) show that Ilocos Norte is contributing an annual lion’s share of 69 percent in the total garlic production in the country. Occidental Mindoro ranks second with a contribution of 22.03 percent, while Quezon Province and Ilocos Sur rank third and fourth with annual productions of 2.93 and 2.68 percent, respectively.
However, the trend of garlic production in the province during the last nine years showed a dramatic decline as reflected in the BAS statistics. Garlic, which used to be a billion-peso industry and a major cash crop in the Ilocos region, has suffered a major setback in the last seven years. Insect pests and diseases, adverse effects of climate change, and the high disregard of some farmers on the latest garlic production technologies are being accused to as the major culprits of reducing the annual yield.
This productivity decline has reportedly threatened the livelihood of Ilocos Norte farmers, thus, lessening the supply to meet local demand. Such scenario had encouraged the importation and smuggling of garlic by unscrupulous businessmen and big time garlic traders.
To avert the situation, the MMSU is pushing an extension advocacy campaign to promote awareness on the use of local product instead of the imported ones. Another is the strengthening of garlic research to develop garlic strains that are high-yielding, aromatic, pest resistant, and produce big cloves.
Last year, the university has proposed a national garlic industry improvement program to sustain production. One component of the program was the establishment of the 5-hectare composite garlic production area in the main campus.
With the P10 million allotted fund from the DA, the university was able to buy quality planting materials for garlic farmers and increased the total land areas of garlic farms in the province. Last year, the university built a P1.3 million storage facility for garlic and onion at the MMSU warehouse as a gesture of support to the ailing industry.
The facility, which was funded by the DA, is intended to safeguard high quality garlic bulbs from pests and diseases so that farmers will have healthy planting materials for their next cropping season. At present, the university has more than 50 tons of high quality garlic bulbs ready for this year’s planting season which is from October 15 to November 30.
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.
Because of the perfect weather suited for the crop, the province has the widest land area devoted to garlic which is about 2,130 hectares. Pasuquin’s, which has 620 hectares, is the top producing town 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.
In contrast, 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.
At present, there are nine high yielding garlic varieties that are well adapted in Ilocos Norte – the Ilocos White, Mexican, Ilocos Pink, Nueva Ecija Pink, Nueva Ecija White, Batanes White, Batangas White, Cabuyao, and Mindoro I.
Ilocos White variety can give an average yield 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 a farmgate price of P150 per kilo, the 6-ton yield can give the farmer a gross income of P900,000 per hectare. Deducting the production cost of about P85,000, he rakes in a substantial P815,000 net profit. Reynaldo E. Andres/PNA