Lack of infrastructure hinders Batanes’ agriculture potential
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that Batanes, a group of islands in the Northernmost part of Luzon, is beautiful but its lack of infrastructure is hindering its agriculture potentials.
Piñol said that he was recently in Batanes for a “difficult two-day visit” to check on the islands’ potentials in garlic and fish production.
“Arriving in the town proper of Itabayat, which is the biggest among the group of islands comprising Batanes Province, I saw the great potential to produce more of the famous Batanes Garlic,” Piñol said.
Batanes Garlic, which comes in Red and White, is a gourmet’s delight mainly because of its strong aroma and taste.
The Itabayats and the Ivatans have been growing Garlic for almost 100 years but the very low market price and the unabated smuggling by the Garlic Cartel in the past, dampened the spirit of the garlic farmers.
Today, Batanes Garlic farmers are enjoying better prices. While the buying price in the past went to as low as P20 per kilo, the wholesale buying price in the island is now at P100 per kilo.
However, they said the government should improve port facilities.
“They could produce more they said but government must do something to improve the port facilities. With this visit, I will take this problem up with Secretary Art Tugade of the Department of Transportation,” Piñol said.
For next year, encouraged by the good price and government support, Itbayat Garlic farmers intend to increase their area to 500-hectares which is expected to produce an estimated 2,000 metric tons.