KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - After long years of neglect, Sudanese agronomists are now working to re-indigenize garlic cultivation in a bid to cut the high import bill and evade GM varieties that dominated the local market for some time.
Garlic is grown in many countries of the world, with China topping the list of producers with an 80 percent output.
Sudan grows the best quality garlic with a distinct flavor and taste that can easily qualify it to earn a handsome quantity of hard currency.
Known with its scientific name Allium Sativum, garlic belongs to the genetic family Liliacea. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leak, chive and Chinese onion.
The garlic plant, grows up to 1 meters (3.3 ft) in height. Its hardiness is USDA Zone 8. It produces hermaphrodite flowers which are pollinated by bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects.
Garlic is a vegetable rich in vitamins, mineral salts and proteins. It contains calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, vitamins A,B,C and H, beside anti-rotting and blood- pressure-reducing yeasts. It also contains substances that stimulate bile secretion and, in addition, contains thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and ascorbic acid. It also has a content of anti- gram negative and anti-gram positive bacteria substances. It is used to add a pleasant flavor to a lot of fresh, cooked and acetated foods.
Studies have proved the viability of garlic in the treatment of arterial high pressure, the prevention of blood clots, the prevention of tropomyosin and the clumping of blood platelets. It regulates the functions of the heart, reduces cholesterol level in the blood and reduces the danger of cancer (colon, stomach and pancreas cancers in particular).
Garlic is a strong antiseptic and guards against and treats colds and influenza through the consolidation of the body’s immune system. It is applied topically to cure wounds and ease out insect bites’ poisons as well as fights poisons resulting from smoking. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and is consumed as an appetizer.
Garlic treats liver problems and guards the liver against liver fibrosis. It boosts the desire for sex in both males and females and is deemed essential for the health of pregnant women as it protects them from pre-eclampisa and eclampisa (blood poisoning).
It preserves the fetus’ health and increases the chances for a baby to be born with a normal weight. It reduces fatigue, strengthens the bones, reduces and treats toothaches and moderates arthritis. It has the capacity to fight a lot of parasites, in particular stomach parasites and worms.
Garlic can moderate symptoms and complications associated with diabetes such as kidney, nervous system and eye retina problems.
In pregnant women, garlic enhances the blood circulation and reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two factors essential for safe pregnancy and safe childbirth and after.
Professor Ja’afar Hussein Mohammad Ali of the Sudan University For Science and Technology tells Sudanow that garlic is an economic crop no less than other agricultural crops: Even in America they would tell you to “Forget about gold and silver and invest in garlic!”
Prof. Ja’afar is of the view that “wherever onion can be grown, garlic can also be grown.”
Garlic is grown as a winter crop in the districts of Berber and Alselaim in Northern Sudan. It is also cultivated in creeks in Darfur (Western Sudan) during the rainy season, in Central Sudan and in Wawessi in the vicinity of Khartoum, an area with cumulative expertise in garlic production.
Sudan’s local garlic varieties have a long shelf and store life. For instance the Ja bal Marra (Darfur) garlic variety (which is purple in color) can be stored for eight months in ordinary un-refrigerated stores, on the condition that the product be fully ripe and the store adequately ventilated.
Sudan, according to Prof. Ja’afar, was self-sufficient in garlic up to the year 2000 and after that the country started to import Chinese garlic, which is less in quality and flavor than the locally produced garlic.
Some countries have banned the importation of Chinese garlic because it is treated with Gamma cancerous rays, according to Prof. Ja’afar, who disclosed that “when we tried to cultivate this product, it failed to germinate.”
He said Chinese garlic was popular with housewives because its husk can easily be removed. It was for that reason Sudanese farmers stopped the growing of garlic and the country started to import it from China. Sudan also imports garlic from Argentina, the UK, Ethiopia and Egypt, he said. Sudan imports the worth of over $1 million of garlic, he added.
Prof. Ja’afar said at the initiative of the project for re-indigenizing garlic cultivation in the State of Khartoum, they came to realize that Khartoum was historical home of garlic production and that the name ‘Khartoum’ is a combination of the two Arabic words: khor (creek) and toom (garlic.), so came the name Khartoum.
Garlic production is very expensive, seeds in particular, said Prof. Ja’afar.
He said garlic mechanized cultivation has been introduced in most localities of the Capital State and the process is in progress and “ we hope to have a good economic return, stop importation and encourage farmers of Sudan to grow this crop which is sure to increase their income.”
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