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Garlic prices push cost of ‘longganisa’

Despite the skyrocketing prices of garlic that affected the cost of longganisa, vendors in Calumpit, Bulacan say their sales remain high. DINO BALABO  

CALUMPIT, Bulacan, Philippines – High garlic prices have not spared this town’s famous longganisa, touted as the best tasting sausage in Central Luzon.

Linda Garcia, a local vendor, said the garlic-flavored delicacy now sells at P200 per kilo, up by P20 compared to last month’s prices.

Special Calumpit longganisa with less fat and more garlic is sold at P210 per kilo.

Garcia said they could not help but raise prices, given the hefty increase in garlic prices. From only P40 per kilo, she said the price of garlic soared to P280 per kilo last month.

She said people still buy their products despite the price hike, but their customers now buy less. “They are surprised that prices have soared,” she said.

Garcia, who started selling longganisa at the public market here in 1995, said the secret of Calumpit longganisa is in the garlic.

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She said they use garlic that are locally produced or imported from Taiwan. But she lamented that even the price of Taiwan garlic has increased.

Vendors here called on the government to regulate the price of garlic to enable them to keep the low price of their longganisa.

Wilfredo Valdez, president of the Vegetable Growers Association in Region 1, said the high price of garlic is temporary and prices are expected to stabilize in the coming months.

He said the region’s garlic reserve is “thinning out” because farmers sold them to middlemen while the remaining stocks have been reserved for planting in September or October.

“When rainy season sets in, prices of vegetable normally increase,” he said.

Stable prices

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is optimistic that the prices of garlic in Metro Manila will stabilize soon.

The DA has begun assisting various farmers’ organizations in the distribution of their produce to various trading centers in Metro Manila.

In a statement yesterday, the DA said the so-called mobile stores rolled out by the DA in Metro Manila markets will now distribute six-kilogram bags at wholesale prices ranging from P100 to P200 per kilo depending on the size.

Growers have been selling their produce in selected Quezon City markets from Monday to Wednesday and in other Metro Manila markets from Thursday to Saturday.

Direct sale of garlic will be conducted in 16 major markets in the following schedule.

In Quezon City: Farmers Market, June 19, 8 to 10 a.m.; Project 4 Public Market, June 19, 7 to 10 a.m.; Galas Public Market, June 20, 8 to 10 a.m.; Commonwealth Market, June 20, 8 to 10 a.m.; and Kamuning Public Market, June 21, 8 to 10 a.m.

In other areas in Metro Manila: Pasay Public Market on June 20 at 7 to 10 a.m.; New Dagonoy Public Market in San Andres, Manila, June 20, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mandaluyong Public Market, June 21, 7 to 10 a.m.; Muntinlupa Public Market, June 19, 7 to 10 a.m.; and Pasig City Mega Market, June 21, 7 to 10 a.m.

The DA is eyeing the importation of around 46,000 metric tons of garlic this year to fill the supply gap and arrest the spike in prices.

Following the higher garlic prices in Metro Manila markets, the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT) convened last week to determine the cause of the price spikes and come up with solutions.

The NGAT is composed of representatives of the DA High Value Crops Development Program, Department of Trade and Industry, the academe and the private sector.

It was discovered during the NGAT meeting that the rise in garlic prices is the combined result of a supply gap and the reluctance of traders to source from local producers.

The volume to be imported would satisfy 50 percent of the domestic demand of more than 90,000 MT annually.

DA spokesman Emerson Palad said the DA is reviewing the resolutions submitted by the NGAT to ensure that needed volume will be imported at the right time to avoid competition with local farmers during harvest.

Additional guidelines for the accreditation and issuance of import permits for garlic are being crafted to prevent local garlic farmers from being used by importers.

“Safeguards will be added for the benefit of the farmers, since volume and timing of importation are very crucial,” Palad said.

Palay price

In a related development, palay price hit a record high of P27 per kilo from the previous P25 per kilo due to lack of supply.

Rice millers in Bocaue, Bulacan said the buying price climbed to P25.60 per kilo, while in Nueva Ecija, traders said they are buying up to P27 per kilo.

Their statement is contrary to the claim of the DA that there is sufficient supply of rice, and that the price is normal because of the lean months.

Rice traders and millers said the lean months usually start in late July because some farmers wait until the wet season to sell their summer harvest. – With Czeriza Valencia, Charlie Lagasca

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