Task force to revive PH’s garlic industry pushed

BATAC City, August 24 (PNA) — A joint resolution that authorizes President Rodrigo Duterte to create a task force to revitalize the country’s garlic industry is gaining headway at the 17th Congress through the initiative of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) and support of seven development agencies and four provincial governments.

Proposed by MMSU officials Dr. Prima Fe Franco, Junie Bucao, and Samuel Franco, the resolution which is now in the hands of Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque), Chairman of the House Committee on Energy, aims to address the reported increase in the price of garlic in the local market and the alleged decrease in local production in recent years.

MMSU President Shirley Agrupis said one of the roles of MMSU in the task force is the efficient operation of its Garlic Research Center to undertake garlic applied research and development and location of specific studies in Ilocos Norte, and the production of true-to-type foundation planting materials for the local farmers.

The Congress is now trying to allocate funds in the annual budget of MMSU under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) specifically for basic garlic research and development. For three years, the project shall have a total budget of P57.5 million.

The proponents said such move to address the numerous problems that beset the garlic industry for the past decades resulting in farmers’ low profitability and decreased production which encouraged the importation of the commodity.

To protect the industry, certain tariff and non-tariff barriers were imposed but these have resulted to smuggling,” the proponents added stressing that after consultation, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture cited the need of infusing research and development funds to revive the garlic industry.

Once approved, one of the task force’s mandates is to develop a mechanism in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 7171 to include garlic as a component of an alternative farming system which shall be at least 10 percent of the amount going to the individual provinces, cities and municipalities.

Aside from MMSU, the agencies involved in this effort are the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB), and the provincial governments of Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and La Union. (Tawid News, from the report of Reynaldo E. Andres)