The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) administration building in Batac City Campus. (Photo courtesy of MMSU)

BATAC CITY – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has approved a PHP35.5-million fund for the establishment of the National Garlic and Other Agri-Food Condiments Research and Development (R&D) Center here this year.
The research center, which will be set-up at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), is expected to help increase the competitiveness of garlic and the other condiments, such as the multiplier onion, ginger, chili pepper, black pepper, and turmeric in the market
It also aims to develop a successful chain for these products, including their processing and storage facilities.
Dr. Dionisio Bucao, chief of MMSU’s Garlic Research Center (GRC), said the establishment of the new national R&D center hopes to increase the garlic yield of farmers in the province from 3.8 tons per hectare to 5 tons, reduce bulb weight loss from 50 percent to 15 percent, and increase the net income of farmers by 30 percent.
“This time, we not only focus the R&D initiatives on garlic, but also on other agricultural products that are being used as spices or food condiments,” Bucao said Monday.
Based on the proposal submitted to DOST, the project’s fund allocation shall be sourced out from the agency’s grants-in-aid (GIA) program; and all proposed science and technology (S&T) interventions will be operationalized through the complementation of the five projects that will be implemented from 2018 to 2023.
These include the collection, characterization, conservation and improvement of garlic and pepper genetic resources in the country; improvement on the productivity of garlic and other condiment crops through the development of integrated crop management system; enhancement on the curing and garlic storage practices in the country through the development of village level low-cost storage facilities; enhancement on the usability and profitability of garlic through black garlic processing; and the identification of the key strategies in improving the competitiveness of the local garlic.
Aside from the PHP35.5-million fund from the DOST GIA program, PHP3.8 million will be provided by MMSU as its counterpart fund.
“Through this R&D center, we hope to actively generate and enhance the technical competency of local government units (LGUs) and other research institutions and create a vibrant market opportunity through product development and other initiatives,” Bucao said.
He also expects the research hub will strengthen partnership with other agencies in garlic-growing provinces in the country, such as Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Nueva Ecija, Batanes, Nueva Vizcaya, Quezon, Iloilo, Romblon, Abra, and Benguet.
Meanwhile, the country is producing garlic in small volume estimated at 7,751 metric tons (mt) a year despite its national annual consumption requirement posted at 139,777 mt.
Records from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that Ilocos Norte is annually contributing 61 percent in the national total production of garlic, followed by Occidental Mindoro (19 percent), and Ilocos Sur (4 percent).
In 2017, the country ranked 46th among the 101 garlic-growing nations in the world in terms of volume production, based on the record from the Food and Agriculture Organizations Statistical Databases (FAOSTAT).
Bucao attributed the production decline to the degrading fertility condition of agricultural soils in the Ilocos region and the decreasing production area, as farmers shift to other high-value commercial crops, such as corn and tobacco. (PNA)