Speakers call for promoting HG1 Garlic to curtail import

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir)

Senate Standing Committee on Commerce has directed the National Agriculture Research Centre, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) and the provincial governments to collectively prepare a plan to support HG1 variety of garlic growers which has the potential of producing enough to put an end to Rs 80 billion per annum import. The plan will identify policy, investment, training and other support measures which assistance is required from Export Development Fund (EDF) to increase NARC HG1 Garlic variety’s production and export surplus.

This was disclosed at a seminar arranged by the Agricultural Journalists Association (AJA) here on Thursday. Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Company (PHDEC) Punjab Region’s head Jafar Ali, progressive growers, CEO of a seed development company Tariq Ismail Mayo and others addressed the event.

PHDEC Punjab’s regional head Jafar Ali speaking on this occasion said that his organization was ready to extend assistance needed to promote HG1 garlic variety. He said it was the mandate of his organization to help promote the horticulture products and their export from Pakistan. He invited the growers and the companies involved in production of the above mentioned variety to come up with a plan and they would fund it from the Export Development Fund (EDF). Throwing light on their various projects, he said they were going to open their offices in different areas which were hub of any horticulture produce such as chilli producing areas, mango producing areas etc so as to there should be no hassle for farmers to approach them and seek solution to their issues.

Tariq Ismail Mayo, CEO Agro Bridge (Pvt) Limited said at present 577 farmers which sowing the variety on around 2,100-2,200 acres of land and if this figure could be pushed to 20,000 acres to 25,000 acres in next three years, it would help our dependence on import of garlic from abroad. “At present we were importing around 60 per cent of our domestic need from different neighboring countries formally or informally,” he added.

He sent on to say that they were carrying out research in collaboration with three different universities to bring down the cost of production of this variety making it more profitable for the farmers. He claimed that this variety had manifold production potential and it had best nutritional and medicinal value. He said they were working on it to make a “zero wastage” crop. “It can also help controlling the issue of smog. He said stubble of rice could be used for mulching the said garlic crop which would help stopping growth of weeds in it, contain moisture in the land and help better growth of bulbs of garlic. He said later these rice stubbles could be merged into land through use of rotavators and these were the best form of DAP fertilizer.

Muhammad Luqman President Garlic Growers Association said that total consumption of the garlic in Pakistan was around 300,000 tons per annum and major chunk of it was imported. He stressed for keeping the garlic crop more organic to make it acceptable in the international market. He also called for promotion of value addition to ensure export, as it could not be exported in raw form.

Ali Raza Kharal, a progressive farmer from Sheikhupura termed the HG1 a promising crop to earn handsome profit. However, he stressed the need to sow at least 100,000 plants in an acre with distance of 5 inches between two plants to get 60 mm of fruit which was acceptable for domestic use.

Hussnain Akhtar Virk, another farmer speaking on this occasion called for educating the farmers that what crop they should sow according to the climatic and soil conditions of their area. He said education was essential for the growers in our country, as most of these have around less than 12 acres of land and they should be imparted knowledge of which crop was more profitable for them.