Bisaya Native Garlic

Ark of taste
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Bisaya, bawang

The Native Garlic locally known as “bisaya” or “bawang” is a species of Allium sativum which is native of Cabacanan Rizal, Alimodian, Iloilo. Its origin is not proved however, it is believed to have been cultivated for more than 3 decades by local farmers.

This garlic variety has been maintained locally by a few farmers in several upland areas of Alimodian, Iloilo, Western Visayas. Those areas are called “seven cities’ barangays” by the local government. These barangays have higher elevation (estimated to be about 500 meters above sea level) and cooler temperature suited for “high value vegetables”.

Generally, garlic is a dry season crop because it is harvested during the warm months, normally between March and June. However, the crop is more productive during cool months when the days are shortest since bulb formation occurs at this period. Cool weather is needed by the crop during its early stage of growth. The best soil types for its cultivation are clay alluvial and sandy loam. During ripening stage, a comparative dry soil, dry atmosphere, and moderately high temperatures are important. Areas with an elevation of 800 to 1,500 meters above the sea level are good places for cultivation. 
The native garlic grows up to 60 centimeters high. Its leaves are flat and linear, while the bulb size is smaller than the improved hybrid or imported varieties and contains about 8-12 small cloves. Aside from having the smaller bulbs packed with smaller cloves, the aroma of native garlic is stronger than the common, improved or hybrid varieties. The garlic plant is one of the most widely used herb in popular medicines among Philippines.

The garlic is used in several forms, from whole cloves and smooth pastes to powders and other supplements such as garlic extract or garlic oil. For the Filipino cuisine garlic is an essential condiment to add to flavor every dish. The Bisaya Garlic is very appreciated in the Filipino kitchen, and it is used to season and spice up food dishes. A common way to use the garlic is to press a few fresh cloves and add to sauted vegetables, meat or fish. It is also used for marinating fish, meat, pork for a few hours before they are cooked.

In the location identified the native garlic is primarily used for local and family consumption. The harvested garlic can be dried, cured and braided and hung over the kitchen ceiling (known as dapog). 

Unfortunately, due to the introduced high value and the cheap imported varieties, the local producers have stopped growing the native variety. To the extent that nowadays, it can be difficult to find the bisaya native garlic in the markets. While there are no incentives to motivate and encourage the farmers to retrieve and cultivate the native garlic variety it is likely to become extinct.

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Western Visayas (Region VI)

Production area:Cabacanan Rizal, Alimodian, Iloilo