Thailand’s military has been called in to tackle garlic smuggling after local prices plunged.
The country is facing an allium crisis as garlic is being illegally moved across its borders from neighbouring countries.
Military officers are working with the customs department and the commerce ministry to try to stamp out the smuggling, Boonyarit Kalayanamit, director-general of the internal trade department, said.
As a result of the contraband vegetable, local farmers are suffering as garlic prices have slumped, falling from 115 baht (£2.70) a kilogram in the same period last year to 77.5 baht (£1.81).
Mr Boonyarit said the three departments were working together “to deal with the issue, particularly garlic smuggled from neighbouring countries”.
Anybody found in possession or who moves imported garlic without a permit will face “at least five years” in prison, a fine of up to 140,000 baht (£3,280), or both, he added.
Thailand will produce about 84,000 tons of garlic this year, which is 10.6% higher than last year, due to an increase in growers, especially in the north.
The country relies on importing about 44,000 tons a year to keep up with its healthy appetite for garlic, with about 121,000 tons consumed in Thailand annually.