ISLAMABAD: A new garlic variety developed at the National Agricultural Research Centre (Narc) has yielded 24 tonnes per hectare — the highest ever produced in the country as compared to other garlic cultivars grown locally.

Bulb weight of the newly developed variety called Narc-G1 has been recorded approximately 185.43 grams as compared to the local ‘Lehson Gulab’ which is only 35.45 grams. Narc-G1 is relatively larger than other garlic varieties while cultivation in suitable climate and proper care can enhance its productivity.

The new variety was approved by the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc) and it was also vetted last month by the seed councils of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to Parc chairman Dr Mohammad Azeem Khan, the new variety will not only increase earnings of the farmers but also reduce the bill of garlic imports.

Pakistan produces 81,167 tonnes and imports 46,139 tonnes from China

Breeders are now getting a considerable rise in demand for Narc-G1, particularly from food processing and pharmaceutical industries.

He said Belarus had expressed interest in importing the new garlic variety from Pakistan.

The Vegetable Crop Research Programme of the Horticulture Research Institute at Narc had started garlic variety development in 2009-10 to achieve the high-yielding variety for the country.

According to a team of scientists led by Humayun Khan, which worked on the development of Narc-G1, the feedback from garlic growers on the new variety has been outstanding. Station yield trials and national uniform yield trials data indicate that the new variety performs best in all the four provinces as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Some common garlic cultivars in Pakistan are ‘Lehson Gulab’, Italian, Iranian and Chinese garlic. As the popular local garlic variety ‘Lehson Gulab’ is low in yield but highly acceptable in the market, it, however, is not fulfilling the industrial demand in the country, Dr Azeem said.

Statistics compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organisation show that the top garlic producing countries in the world include China (22,333,877 tonnes), India (1,721,000 tonnes), Bangladesh (461,970 tonnes) and Egypt (286,213 tonnes).

Currently, Pakistan is positioned at nineteenth, with an annual production of 81,167 tonnes of garlic which is very low as compared to the top yielding countries.

Pakistan is importing 46,139.8 tonnes of garlic from China. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, garlic imports have been immensely affected.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2020