Japanese firm donates black garlic processing machine

The Takara Inc., a Japanese company specializing in garlic products, donated a black garlic (BG) processing machine to the MMSU in its bid to become the first Philippine agency to commercialize the production of BG in the country.


The machine, which was manufactured by the Taiki Senyo Company Ltd., has arrived in MMSU last February 11 and was immediately installed at the university's Food Processing and Innovation Center located in one of the buildings of the Science and Technology Park.


Representatives of the Takara Inc. led by its president Kimio Takarada turned over the machine to MMSU President Shirley C. Agrupis in a simple ceremony at the S&T Park on Monday and expressed commitment to help the university and the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) revitalize the province's garlic industry.


They were joined by officials from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).


Dr. Agrupis said that MMSU and PGIN are so blessed with this tie-up, "because as soon as BG is commercialized in Ilocos Norte, garlic farmers will become the direct beneficiaries of this effort and that the production of fresh garlic in the province will be improved."


The machine is under the supervision of Dr. Marlowe Aquino, S&T Park director.


Takarada's group, which specializes in the production of black garlic and other fruits, vegetables and processed products, has started exploring the exchange of garlic technologies between MMSU and Japan.


Last year, it entered into a partnership with MMSU and the PGIN in order to guide farmers produce bigger garlic bulbs and produce other value-adding products.


After the turnover ceremony, the Japanese guests met with the university officials and presented the feasibility survey for increasing garlic production in Ilocos Norte, including its plan to implement the production of black garlic aimed at improving the livelihood of farmers in the country.


"The expected outcome of this effort is to increase the garlic yield of farmers in the province from an average of 3.5 tons to 7 tons," Hideto Daiko, a member of Takarada's group said.


According to Daiko, this development effort will support the Philippine government in implementing the National Garlic Development Plan from 2018-2022 by creating a task force to revitalize the country's garlic industry. The plan was contained in House Resolution No. 1312 that was signed on September 18, 2017.


This was followed by a signed memorandum of understanding on September 27, 2017 between PGIN, MMSU, Takara Inc., and the Department of Agricultural- Regional Field Office 1 to establish cooperation and working arrangements to improve the productivity of garlic and develop high value-added garlic products.


"That is why we are challenged to support this program because of its potential impact on the farmers' economy," Daiko said noting that in Japan, "we merely produce 6 percent of the national demand, while Ilocos Norte is producing 70 percent."


"Our priority is to increase garlic production and the farmers' income, improve soil fertility, improve seed quality and sowing method, and introducing Japanese garlic cultivation technique here in Ilocos Norte," Daiko said, emphasizing that BG processing and virus free seed production techniques will be considered.


Meanwhile, Dr. Dionisio Bucao, chief of MMSU's Garlic Research Center reported that Pasuquin, Burgos, Vintar and Sarrat towns are still the top producers of fresh garlic with a total productions of 2,310, 606.5, 592.5, and 378 metric tons, respectively, in 2017-2018 production season. These outputs made Ilocos Norte remain as the country's top producer of garlic.