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The HVCDP is eyeing land in Mindoro and Iloilo for the expansion of garlic cultivation areas.

Remoquillo said the establishment of the new cultivation areas would increase domestic garlic production by at least 50 percent.

“We are hoping to double production, but we are looking for the availability of planting materials,” she added.

The crops program would also coordinate with state colleges and universities for the production of tissue cultures for producing disease-free planting materials.

Member companies of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) are also scouting for some 500 hectares of garlic cultivation areas in the provinces of Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and La Union for contract growing arrangements with farmers.

Investing companies are willing to spend a total of P25 million to put up new production areas.

In a press briefing recently, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the department is also looking into suspicions that traders are holding substantial volumes of garlic.

“We will investigate if there are persons who have cornered the supply. We will see if traders have the supply of both local and imported garlic,” he said.

To lower garlic prices in metro markets, the DA has put up rolling stores in Metro Manila to assist farmers’ cooperatives in distributing their produce without the need for middlemen.

The DA is also mulling the issuance of import permits for around 46,000 metric tons of garlic, which will satisfy half of the annual domestic demand of more than 100,000 MT.

Filipino farmers only produce around 9,000 MT annually, meeting only a tenth of the annual demand.

(Published in Philippine Star on June 25, 2014)