PGIN intensifies support to garlic farmers, adopts tissue culture

In line with its goal to amplify agricultural development and improve the livelihoods of Ilocanos, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) was able to aid garlic farmers in producing healthier and bigger crops by implementing tissue culture.

Tissue culture is a process allowing agriculturists to replicate one plant with desired characteristics into thousands of identical crops. Fragments of plant tissue are transferred to an artificial environment in which they are exposed to a specific regimen of nutrients and hormones as they grow, thereby multiplying. This results to more fruitful plants with a higher survival rate.

Three farms each from the towns of Burgos and Pasuquin, and the City of Batac, received assistance in applying this technique to their garlic crops.

Ms. Imelda Adalem of the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) expressed gratitude not only to Governor Imee Marcos for spearheading the usage of this technique in the province, but also to a group of scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) consisting of Prof. Lilian F. Pateña, Dr. Raol P. Pamiloza, and National Scientist Dr. RC Barba, who aided in planting and monitoring the crops.

Adalem said that the crops planted in Burgos show the most vitality, and according to Pateña, the establishment of a greenhouse might be in order for better tissue cultures in Pasuquin and Batac City due to the hotter climate in those areas being unconducive to garlic.

Two farmers from Burgos, Gil Briones and Ronald Garalde, were recognized by the UPLB scientists for their outstanding transplant in their respective fields and for being able to produce bigger crops. Oscar Bugawisan of Pasuquin also had a higher field survival rate of tissue culture bulblets compared to other farmer recipients from Pasuquin and Batac City.

Garlic crops, Adalem explained, thrive in cooler climate and soil that is easier to drain. They are expected to be ready for harvesting by the last week of February or March.

Governor Marcos had expressed the need for improvement of Ilocos garlic in her last State of the Province Address, “Itaguyod ang produktong sinauna—gulay, lasuna, at higit sa lahat: bawang. National demand for garlic is at an all- time high, but over 90% is imported. Dapat dagdagan ang tanim na 6% dito sa ating probinsia.”

PGIN’s commitment to enhancing the productivity and sustainability of Ilocos Norte’s agriculture sector was amplified in November 2015 with the launching of its flagship program “Paspas Dur-as Biag ti Away!” (rapid development for rural areas). The PAO had conducted a three-day agricultural training then on product development and good manufacturing practices.

Aside from boosting the agricultural economy, bawang has also been at the center of recently-established tourist attractions like the Darat Garlic Center and the Garlic Farmers Monument in Pinili. Mizpah Grace G. Castro, PGIN-CMO