'Buy our bawang', says Batanes governor amid nationwide garlic shortage

·Senior Editor
·2 min read
A photo of a bawang (garlic) vendor at a market in Manila
A vendor selling bawang (garlic) at a market in Manila on August 5, 2014. (PHOTO: JAY DIRECTO/AFP via Getty Images)

Batanes governor Marilou Cayco is appealing to the public to help buy up some 20 tons of bawang (garlic) in her province, even as the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the production of onions, garlic, and salt, as well as sugar, may be insufficient to cater to domestic demand until the holidays.

According to ABS-CBN News, Cayco said in a televised briefing that the oversupply was down to the fact that the DA had bought less garlic from Cagayan Valley, where Batanes is located.

The provincial government hence bought up the bawang instead, but Cayco expressed fears that farmers might be "discouraged" to work if no one buys their harvests.

Batanes has already received orders for garlic, with the province sending out products to Metro Manila, Isabela, Tuguegarao City, and the Ilocos Region. The governor added that the DA has been in touch with the provincial government and a DA official will go to Batanes to speak to farmers.

"Para tuwing harvest ay may sigurado na silang buyer (So that they have a sure buyer for every harvest)," said Cayco.

The Bureau of Plant Industry warned in late August that the country's production of garlic is insufficient to meet the projected demand of 73,000 metric tons in the second half of 2022. It can only supply about 37,000 metric tons, while the rest is imported.

"We are not sufficient at all when it comes to garlic. We are dependent on importation... insufficiency, admittedly, is a problem we have been facing and improvement in production yield and quality of our garlic is something we have to work on," said DA spokesperson Kristine Evangelista during a House panel briefing.

Separately, DA Undersecretary Domingo Panganiba said the Philippines is looking to import salt amid supply issues and problems with local production.

As salt production has declined in years, the Philippines now imports more than 90 per cent of its needs. Businesses attribute the death of the industry to a law years back that made the addition of iodine to salt compulsory.

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