Garlic - a powerful plant
MetadataShow full item record
CTA. 2005. Garlic - a powerful plant. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57167
Canisius Mpala, a garlic farmer from Zimbabwe explains the advantages of this crop, for which the market in Africa is growing.
Garlic - a powerful plant Cue: In European folk stories, garlic is perhaps known for its power to keep away vampires - the fictional creatures that live by drinking human blood. But the reputation of garlic for protecting humans from harm is not just a story. In fact the power of garlic to help the body to fight infections is well known, and some people eat garlic as an alternative medicine to treat fevers. Originating from Europe, China and Japan, garlic is widely used as a flavouring in European and Asian cooking. It?s also becoming more popular in African cooking, and the future for garlic farmers selling to local markets in Africa would seem to be bright. The power of garlic to repel pests is not just a folk tale either. Garlic plants act as a repellent to many insect pests, and if grown among other vegetable crops, such as tomatoes, garlic can help to protect all the plants from insect attack. Once harvested, the garlic bulbs - each one made from many smaller sections called cloves - can be stored in a well ventilated place for up to a year without losing their value. Canisius Mpala is a garlic farmer from Zimbabwe. He spoke to Busani Bafana about his experience of growing this powerful, high value crop. Busani began by asking him why he decided to grow garlic. IN: ?I saw the crop being grown at home? OUT: ? it is an easy crop to grow and the returns are very good.? DUR?N 5?39? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Canisius Mpala, a garlic farmer from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Transcript Mpala I saw the crop being grown at home in the Lukosi irrigation scheme in Hwange. Then I decided to experiment on the crop because I was told that it was easy to grow. I tried it and then after harvesting I realised that it was an easy crop to grow, it had a good market. So I decided to retain most of the seed, I sold a bit, so that the following year I went into it and grew it on a much larger area. Bafana What would you say are the necessary conditions for the cultivation of garlic? Mpala It is a cold season crop which requires chilling. So you can only grow it in the winter months. So in the winter months you have to plough your land, put in your manure, mix it with your soil. After that you put rows which are about 20 cms apart. Then in between the plants, you need to plant it about 5 cms apart. And then from there the only thing you have to do is to weed. And once in a while you can use a bit of pesticide just to prevent some diseases, but otherwise it is an easy crop. Even without any chemicals you can grow it as long as you do some irrigation since it is grown in winter. You have to plant it in March. It will be ready by July/August for harvesting. Bafana You sound very passionate about growing garlic. Are there any difficulties in growing garlic? Mpala Usually I tell people that garlic is an easy crop to grow because it is not attacked by any pests. It is actually a repellent. When the guys in Hwange started it was on the IPM workshop, whereby they wanted to find out which crop would they grow with their tomatoes in order to reduce the amount of pesticides that they were using. So they did a crop of garlic and tomatoes, and tomatoes alone and garlic alone, and then looked at the yields. So from there most of those guys in Hwange have now sort of resorted to taking garlic as the major crop. So it is an easy crop to grow, you just need a bit of water in winter and then even the fertilisation, once you do your composting in manure that is ideal for the crop. Bafana What would you say was the biggest challenge you faced when you went into garlic growing? Mpala The biggest challenge was the availability of cloves and the availability of the proper seed, because there are two varieties. There is the pink garlic and there is the white garlic. The pink garlic, most of the guys say this is more pungent and most people like it but it is not favourable for export. The white garlic is easy to handle and it is favourable for export but the seed was not available or it is not readily available. I think that has been the biggest challenge, getting the right material for seed. Bafana Is it also easy to find the market for garlic? Mpala Locally it has been easy, I think because most of the big wholesalers, the fruit and vegetable sellers they take up the garlic. And many people are learning or getting to use garlic on a regular basis so that marketing of the garlic has not been a problem. Bafana You talked about white garlic and the pink garlic. When you grow the garlic do you sell it as processed or do you sell it raw? Mpala Right now the pink garlic that we are growing, we are selling it as raw garlic. You just have to remove the leaves, remove the roots, package it into 10kg pockets, sell it to Interfresh or the vegetable wholesalers. The white garlic that is for export has bigger cloves. It is easy to process and the South African market want it crushed as puree. Therefore this will be semi-processed, that will be sold to the outside market. Bafana As a passionate farmer no doubt, what is the future of garlic growing in Zimbabwe as far as you can see? Mpala The future of garlic growing is very bright. The past years or the past decade it was associated with the people of Asian decent or the whites. Those are the people who were eating garlic. But right now most people are taking up garlic because of its medicinal effect and most people use it as an antibiotic. So most people are taking up garlic and so the demand is increasing. So I think the prospects are brighter. And then there is also the prospect of selling it across the borders. Most countries the demand for garlic is high, therefore there is going to be a ready market and to grow. Bafana For a farmer who might be interested definitely to go into garlic growing, what would be your advice? Mpala My advice is tell the farmer to get in touch with the extension services, find out who are the guys who are already growing garlic, if they want to be assisted. And last year at the farm we had about 15 people coming, even though I was not around my supervisor showed them on how to grow it. When it was harvesting time the people came back again and said ?OK, how do we harvest the garlic?? So I think there is quite a lot of extension that might be needed for people. But looking at the ease at which you can grow garlic, it might have a bit of labour on planting but it is an easy crop to grow and the returns are very good. End of track.