PESHAWAR  - Growers of a new variety of garlic, NARC G1, have advised farming community of the country to take advantage of this garlic variety which has the potential of not only saving billions by reducing imports but also can help generate enormous profits for farmers due to high yield per acre.

“The G1 was introduced by National Agricultural Research Council (NARC) in 2018,” informed Muhammad Ismael, a garlic grower in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The principal breeder of the variety was an agriculture scientist named Dr. Hamayun Khan from Bannu district who died due to coronavirus infection in 2019 soon after introducing this variety, Ismael informed. Ismael added that the research by Dr. Hamayun was aimed at increasing garlic production in the country because we had been paying around Rs. 66.84 billion rupees on import of garlic. Furthermore, the per acre yield of locally produced garlic was also very low, he said.

The per acre yield of locally produced garlic was around 70 to 80 maunds while the new variety had been producing around 200 to 250 maunds per acre, much more than the expectations of farmers, Isamel disclosed. The NARC-G1 is considered to be the best variety among all existing varieties of garlic in Pakistan and its one bulb weighs between 250 gram to 400 grams while the weight of locally produced garlic bulb is around 30 to 50 grams. The annual consumption of garlic in Pakistan is estimated around 130,000 metric tonnes while local production is around 80,000 tonnes ensuing in import of around 50,000 metric tonnes. Through cultivation of this new variety, an hefty amount of Rs. 66 billion can be saved which is being spent on import of the variety, Ismael shared. The G1 garlic needs official patronage for its production and for benefiting the farming community by enabling them to grow this highly profitable variety, Ismael remarked. Ismael said he started growing the G1 on small scale in 2018 and now after realizing its financial benefits he had expanded production over around 30 acres of land.

The per acre revenue generation through production of the G1 is estimated around Rs 10 million and can be improved by employing scientific cultivation techniques, Ismael claimed. “The cultivation period of the G1 is around seven months, starting from September end when sowing is made to the end of May when the yield is harvested,” apprises Taimoor Munawar Khan, another grower from Bannu district. Talking to APP, Taimoor further said, “Cultivation period of G1 is around one month longer that the ordinary garlic because of its large size.” Taimoor said garlic is an integral part of our meal and due to its high medicinal benefits, demand for the commodity is increasing manifold. This variety of garlic can change the fate of farming community of the country and is cultivable in almost all the areas of the country, Taimoor opined.

He said areas with sandy soil can give more production of the G1, but it can also be cultivated in almost every area of the country, he reiterated. In regard with sandy soil, Taimoor continued, the garlic was also very much beneficial for farmers of Southern districts of KP where agriculture production was low due to shortage of irrigation water. Presently the production of G1 has not reached the market yet as the vegetable product is being traded among farmers only as seed, as a result of which, its prices shoots, says Taimoor. The price of seed per one kg is around Rs 2000 to 2500; that is why the limited stock of production is utilized for cultivation only instead of sending to kitchens for human consumption. Presently, he said, cultivation of G1 was being made over 1200 acres of land in the country on experimental basis and growers are reaping benefits of the new crop. “The new variety of garlic is not only profitable for growers due to increased yield per acre, but its nutritive value is also more than the Chinese and the ordinary garlic being cultivated in the country,” said Dr. Ghulam Muhammad Ali, Chairman Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC). Talking to newsmen during an awareness session held in Peshawar regarding growing of NARC-G1, Dr. Ali said the department was working to introduce this variety as an exportable product. Another official of PARC disclosed that the department had received more than 10,000 applications for supply of the seed of the new garlic variety which was out of their reach and it was decided not to entertain these applications.

Meanwhile, growers in Punjab were also found very much happy over experimental cultivation of the NARC-G1 and termed it as a potential product for earning sufficient amount of foreign exchange through export. Saad Javed, an educated farmer from Samandari Tehsil of Faisalabad, said he found the G1 garlic as a highly profitable product due to high demand and very suitable price. Sharing estimates of investment in cultivation and profits in yield, Saad Javed shared that sowing of two to 2.5 maunds of seed on one kanal land cost up to Rs 400,000 to 500,000 while the yield from one kanal was around 40 maunds generating an amount of Rs 800,000 to 10,00000 (one million). He said price of fresh yield was different and dry garlic was much more valuable while the shelf life of this variety was also longer when stored under suitable conditions, he added. Vice Chancellor Agriculture University Peshawar, Prof. Dr. Jehan Bakht, while inspecting a farm of the G1 garlic within the premises of varsity over an area of one acre, said this new variety was very much beneficial for improving earnings of farmers besides earning of foreign exchange. Agriculture University Peshawar will also play its role by providing quality seed to farmers besides creating awareness about its cultivation and benefits, Dr. Jehan Bakht added.