The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing for a two-crop cycle for garlic to boost domestic production and ease dependence on imported supply.
The current crop cycle for garlic supports only one planting phase per year. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Sunday said that he has ordered the DA’s regional office in the Ilocos Region to work with farmer-groups in the towns of Baccara and Pasuquin to test if a two-crop cycle is possible.
Alcala was in Ilocos Norte earlier this week to lead a gathering of DA officials in Laoag and to launch several projects, including the construction of two onion and garlic storage facilities in Pasuquin and the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) campus in Batac, each costing P1.3 million.
Garlic, with a crop cycle which takes about five months from planting to harvest, grows well during dry months. Local farmers typically plant on October or November and harvest by February or March.
Alcala proposed that farmers should plant garlic as early as September so they could harvest by December and plant again within the same month for reaping in March.
The Agriculture Secretary also suggested the use of early maturing garlic varieties.
“Planting twice a year means double income for farmers,” he said.
The DA is also set to test the viability of growing the said crops in a nursery for a month before transplanting them into an open field to save a month in the crop cycle.
DA’s Regional Field Unit 1, headed by Director Valentino Perdido, is expected to finish fine-tuning the details of the proposed activity before the end of July.
He said that the DA would conduct a parallel research in its research station in Batac to ensure the integrity of the results.
Earlier, Alcala asked the officials of the MMSU, led by President Miriam Pascua, to fast track its research and development initiatives aimed at developing quality planting stocks through tissue cultures.
Alcala said the DA would provide additional funds to fast track the improvement of high quality planting stocks.
The lack of quality planting stock has been identified as a major factor in low garlic production seen during the last five years.
MMSU experts said the development of tissue-cultured planting stocks for garlic may take about four years if done through the normal process.