THE domestic garlic crop needs to be made more resilient against pests and diseases to ensure adequate supply, an industry official said.

“We need to conduct continued research and development for improved technology specially on the garlic planting materials which through the years, according to experts, deteriorated in yield per hectare due to asexual propagation or clones of one another that became vulnerable to viral infections, pests and diseases,” Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. President Danilo V. Fausto said in a Viber message.

“We need to have good planting materials that are free from viral and other infections that can quickly multiply in large numbers on a sustained basis. Just like in other crops the proven way to do this is through plant tissue culture to improve our yield,” he added.

In tissue culture, disease-free garlic planting materials can be mass produced in laboratories for eventual field planting, according to Mr. Fausto.

“Our current yield per hectare is around 2.5 tons to 4 tons compared to other countries that produce 10 to 15 tons per hectare such as China. We believe that making available good and disease-free garlic planting materials can match this yield if given attention by the government,” he added.

For 2022, the Department of Agriculture projects a garlic supply of 82,950 metric tons.

Based on the latest data from the DA, the retail price of imported garlic is at P120 per kilogram. There is no available data for local garlic.

Former Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin D. Adriano said that the Philippines imports more than 90% of its garlic requirements, mostly from China and India.

He said that the industry also lacks post-harvest facilities like dryers, storage and transport.

“China and India produce very cheap garlic. India has been offering technical assistance and joint ventures with potential local investors but none has taken the offer. Farms are too small because of prolonged implementation of agrarian reform. We need farm consolidation,” he added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson