With a $23K grant from Hawaiʻi County, Extension agents Jensen Uyeda and Kylie Tavares are bringing their successful garlic trials to Kona and Hilo. And if all goes well, a locally grown variety of the aromatic Allium family could soon appear in restaurants and groceries across the Islands.
For five years, Jensen has been running field trials in a variety of test plots on Oʻahu and Maui, exploring the possibility of commercial garlic production in the state – and so far, so good. The growers he’s working with are successfully producing salable cloves. In fact, one farmer harvested 900 pounds this year and is marketing the garlic at $6-7 per pound, which is higher than the price of California garlic.
“There is a demand for locally grown garlic and that demand is willing to pay the higher price required by local production to meet production cost,” Jensen says. “The quality and diverse flavors of the locally grown garlic set it apart from the mainstream garlic being imported from Mainland and China sources. The garlic varieties being grown are not like any found in local markets, so they can demand a higher price.”
Jensen and Kylie were the guests last week on Hawaiʻi Public Radio’s The Conversation. “Developing products that have higher value — so like garlic chili oil doesn't require a lot of product, but you can market it as a Hawaiʻi-grown product and that value would be significantly increased,” he said.
Read and listen to the full interview, Hawaiʻi Could Soon Have Its Own Domestic Garlic Industry, with host Lillian Tsang.