THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has deployed two trucks loaded with six metric tons (MT) of garlic to augment supply in major markets in Metro Manila, an official said Saturday.

DA spokesperson Undersecretary Emerson Palad said the department hopes that the move would stabilize prices of this agricultural product since local garlic is cheaper.

The trucks of garlic produced by local farmers were made available on Saturday in rolling stores strategically positioned in key markets, such as in Marikina and Pasig public markets, and were sold in six-kilogram bags at wholesale price ranging from P100-200 per kilo depending on the size.

Local garlic purchased in rolling stores costs no higher than P220 per kilo.

Palad urged the public to patronize locally grown garlic which has the advantage of not only being cheaper, but will also lower consumption since it is more potent and flavorful compared to the imported varieties.

Based on DA’s monitoring team, current prices of imported garlic reach as high as P300 per kilo.

While prices of garlic historically rise during this season but never before of this magnitude, the DA said.

“Tulong na rin natin sa ating mga kababayang magsasaka kung ating tatangkilikin ang kanilang produkto,” Palad said.

A few weeks ago, prices of garlic skyrocketed to P290 per kilo for the imported variety and P180 per kilo for the local variety, prompting Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to order an investigation.

Alcala earlier said that the high price of garlic could be the handiwork of unscrupulous traders to create an artificial shortage.

The DA is currently reviewing the resolutions submitted by the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT) meeting held last June 10, to ensure that if additional garlic importation is needed, the correct volume will be imported at the right time so as to avoid competition with local farmers during harvest time, Palad said.

Additional guidelines for the accreditation and issuance of import permits for garlic is being crafted to prevent local garlic farmers from being used by importers just like what happened with rice importation. Safeguards will be added so the garlic farmers will also benefit from importation, the spokesman added. (SDR/Sunnex)