The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday said it will be augmenting the supply of garlic in Metro Manila by bringing in truckloads of locally grown garlic from Luzon and Mindoro to counter an unnatural price surge seen over the past few weeks.
The DA also urged the public to patronize locally produced garlic which is cheaper than its imported counterpart.
Leandro Gazmin, OIC and assistant secretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service, (AMAS), said the DA is now rolling out locally produced garlic sourced from accredited farmers’ cooperatives and intended for key Metro Manila public markets – particularly in Marikina, Commonwealth, Pasig and Nepa-Q Mart in Cubao.
“This will help arrest the rising prices of the commodity,” Gazmin said at a press conference Monday afternoon.
The DA-AMAS, in coordination with garlic producers’ cooperatives in Ilocos, Mindoro, Nueva Vizcaya, and Batanes, fielded 50 trucks carrying 435,000 kilos of locally produced garlic to supply Metro Manila markets.
The Federation of Garlic Growers and Processors of Ilocos Provinces rolled out 300,000 kilos; the Kapisanan ng Magbabawang sa Isla ng Mindoro, 35,000 kilos; while the Batanes Province Garlic Growers and the Nueva Vizcaya Garlic Growers contributed 50,000 kilos each.
Gazmin that locally produced garlic sells for P0.80 per piece (small), P2 (medium), and P3.65 (large).
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala ordered an investigation into reports that prices of imported and locally grown garlic have increased to as much as P290 kilo and P180 per kilo, respectively.
Alcala had assured the public that there was adequate supply of the commodity.
“I don’t see any reason why prices [of garlic]should go up, unless there are some people who are trying to manipulate the prices. This is unfair to the farmers who have successfully revived the garlic industry,” Alcala said.
The agriculture chief said he is willing to sit down with retailers and wholesalers to discuss the escalating prices.
Gazmin said that prices of garlic historically rise during this season but never of this magnitude, adding that the DA has called for a National Garlic Action Team meeting on June 10 to formulate additional measures to address the problem.
At the same time, he said that the DA would not hesitate to take action against unscrupulous traders and speculators found manipulating garlic prices.
Gazmin said that those trying to profit from the situation by manipulating prices will be charged for violation of Republic Act 7581 or the National Price Act Law, which is punishable by imprisonment of one to 10 years and a fine of not less than P5,000 to P1 million.