Garlic production has been an important agricultural activity for the Argentine province of San Juan. Between 2005 and 2009 nearly 2,000 hectares and 25 packing sheds of the province were devoted to this production. Then, the activity decreased for a few years. And now, garlic cultivation is experiencing a small revival in the region.
According to engineer Luis Kulichevsky, from the INTA Rural Extension Agency in Pocito, approximately 1,500 hectares will be devoted to growing garlic this season. This is 20% more land than the 1,200 hectares that the Chamber of Producers and Exporters of Garlic and Related Products of San Juan estimate were used in the previous season. "Last season, producers earned 0.80 to 1 dollar per kilogram of dry garlic," Kulichevsky said.
According to the expert, "China and Spain achieved a good production this season, but nobody knows if China will be able to market its product normally because of COVID-19." "China normally exports 1.5 million tons of garlic a year while Argentina only exports 80,000 tons."
According to Kulichevsky, the world scenario has caused great uncertainty regarding export prices. "The US, for example, imports 70% of its garlic from China and today this country is very affected by the pandemic. San Juan exports white garlic to the US and Europe and the purple garlic to Brazil," he stated. "Argentina has a very low garlic consumption - 150 grams per year - while Brazil consumes 1.5 kilograms per capita and Spain 3 to 4 kilograms. If our country increased consumption, producer income would improve."
"San Juan is known for producing high-quality garlic thanks to its high content of nutraceutical substances and low use of inputs compared to other countries. Producers only carry out phytosanitary treatments to control pests such as weeds, fungal diseases in leaves and soils, and insect pests such as thrips and nematodes," he added.