BY: FREDDIE G. LAZARO
PASUQUIN, Ilocos Norte – From salt capital of Ilocos Norte, Pasuquin may also become garlic capital of the Philippines.
The coastal town of Pasuquin is popular among locals and tourists because of its famous iodized salt stalls lining the national road, north of the capital city of Laoag.
A group of garlic farmers sought the bragging rights for having contributed the biggest slice to Ilocos Norte’s total garlic output.
Wilfredo Valdez, president of Vegetable Growers Association (VGA) of Region 1 and member of the Garlic National Action Team (NGAT), is working on the paper works to be sent to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
“Being the top producer of garlic in the province and to promote the “white gold” product, Pasuquin must be declared as the garlic capital of the country,” Valdez said.
Records from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) on the national garlic output in 2010 showed that Ilocos Norte was the top producer of garlic in the Philippines, contributing at least 69 percent or 6,284 metric tons; followed by Occidental Mindoro with 22.03 percent or 2,012 metric tons; Nueva Ecija produced 3.55 percent or 324 metric tons; Quezon, 2.93 percent or 268 metric tons; and Ilocos Sur 2.68 percent or 245 metric tons.
For the 2013 cropping season, Pasuquin town had at least 620 hectares planted to garlic with an average yield of 2,382 metric tons according to a research paper done by the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU).
The other reported top producing towns in the province were the following: Vintar with 278 hectares or a yield of 889 metric tons; Sarrat, 113 hectares or 332 metric tons; Burgos, 114 hectares or 399 metric tons; and San Nicolas, 110 hectares or 297 metric tons.
Valdez, 52, a retired Marine soldier who now resides in Barangay Nalvo, Pasuquin town, said garlic farming had been the family’s income source.
“We have been depending on garlic for livelihood beginning from our ancestors,” he said.
According to Valdez, most Ilocos farmers produce the white and pink garlic varieties which are bigger in size.
Florencio Lista, Sr., 72, a long-time garlic farmer from Barangay San Juan, Pasuquin town and the president of the Garlic Growers of Pasuquin, said garlic farming helped him send his children to school.
Lista continues to grow garlic in his half hectare land with at least 1.75 metric tons-production with a target income of at least P157,000.
Farmers said garlic is best planted between October 15 to November 15 to get its optimum yield and size.
The Ilocos garlic white variety takes three months to grow before it is ready for harvesting.
Farmers also cited concerns that face the garlic industry such as lack of sufficient garlic planting materials, poor irrigation system and lack of sustainable garlic markets. (MCA/FGL PIA- 1 Ilocos Norte)