New strategies up for garlic industry

BATAC CITY (Aug. 11) – The Department of Agriculture will help revive the Ilocos Region’s garlic industry from further slump with fresh government funds and technical support.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the industry has been bearing the brunt of the influx of cheap garlic imports requiring fresh strategies to avert a further decline.

Alcala recently met with Ilocos Norte farmers, fishers, rural entrepreneurs, students and local officials and gave them some P25 million in agricultural and fishery projects.

“We can revive the garlic industry. Farmers in Nueva Ecija succeeded in turning around their onion industry so can we for your garlic production,” he said.

The department provided quality onion seed pieces, technical assistance and postharvest facilities worth P15 million to help prop up local production in onion-producing towns in Nueva Ecija.

Alcala said the DA could provide a similar policy directive of non-issuance of permits for garlic imports to prevent undue competition between local and imported products.

He said the same policy was adopted for the onion imports.

Based on DA records, garlic production during the last three years has decreased from 11,300 metric tons (MT) in 2008, to 10,500 MT in 2009 and 9,600 MT last year.

The decline was mainly due to less area planted to the crop, dwindling from 3,800 hectares in 2008, 3,600 hectares in 2009 and 3,000 hectares last year.

As part of the P25-M commitment, the DA is allotting a total of P10M for two small scale irrigation projects: construction of a small water impounding project (SWIP), worth P5M, in Burgos, that could irrigate up to 800 hectares, benefiting 500 farm households; and repair of an irrigation system in Paoay, worth P5M.

The DA will also establish five ‘hanger-type’ storage facilities for garlic, onions, as well as tobacco, in Badoc, and four other towns in Ilocos Norte, totalling P6.5 million, at P1.3M each.

A P4-M worth municipal food terminal will be constructed in the town of Bacarra.

Other farm equipment and projects distributed and committed by the DA include the following:

· Fifteen pump and engine sets, totalling P1.17M;
· Cold storage facility for Laoag City, P825,000;
· Various farm equipment (reaper, hand tractor, thresher) and registered rice seeds to various Irrigators Associations, totalling P410,000;
· Livestock raising projects to four 4-H Clubs, P330,000;
· College stipend and book allowance for13 agriculture student-scholars at MMSU, at P19,500 each, totalling P253,500; and
· Scholarship grants (including book allowance and monthly stipend) to an additional batch of 20 MMSU students, at least P100,000 per student for a four-year course.