Onion growers urge Customs to stop entry of smuggled onions
(The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Onion growers have asked the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to stop the entry of smuggled onions from India and China into ports in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao to protect the local industry.

In a press briefing on Tuesday night, local onion growers group Sibuyas ng Pilipinas Ating Alagaan Inc. (SiPAG) said these smuggled onions are brought to major trading centers in Manila like Divisoria  and even to large supermarkets.

Excess red onions from India and white onions from China sell 50 percent lower than local produce. The wholesale price of local red onion is currently placed at P65 to P75 per kilo. The retail price usually has a price mark up of P10 per kilo. 

SiPAG spokesman Seth Bentain said the smuggled onions arrive weekly in the above-mentioned ports in 10 to 15 40-foot containers.

The onions are brought to Manila in smaller cargo trucks and passed off as produce from Visayas and Mindanao. 

“But Visayas and Mindanao do not have a large volume of onion production,” said Bentain. 

SiPAG said the entry of onions is a clear occurrence of smuggling because the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has not issued import permits for white and red onions in almost a year now.

Bentain said that this month, the local market is expected to be swamped by excess produce from India as it harvests this month. From the time of harvest, it takes three weeks for Indian onions to arrive in the Philippines, while it takes Chinese onions seven days.

Onion growers said that the smuggling of onions through “backdoor” channels are discouraging farmers to cultivate the crop and is causing excess inventory in warehouses.

The influx of smuggled onions into the local market has resulted in an excess inventory of one million bags at 25 kilograms per bag in storage.

In a letter to Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon dated Oct. 8, SiPAG president Francisco Collado warned the proliferation of smuggled onions is hurting the local industry.

“Onion production this year is endangered. If this illegal activity continues, our local industry will die and many farmers will suffer,” he said. “We appeal to your bureau to immediately stop this illegal activity.”

Onion growers fear that smugglers could take over the local supply by pushing farmers out of production. They may then impose an artificial shortage and control prices.

 “Growing onions has now become a gamble for us,” said  SiPAG founder Benito Domingo.

SiPAG is an organization composed of onion growers in Pangasinan, Ilocos Region, Mindoro, Tarlac, Iloilo, General Santos and Nueva Ecija.

The local onion sector, valued at P5 billion, directly employs 32,454 growers with 350,000 dependents on a five member per family basis.

The annual consumption is 104,000 metric tons at 1.1 kilo per capita. Around 18,000 hectares of land in the country are used for onion production.

 

BENITO DOMINGO BENTAIN BUREAU OF CUSTOMS BUREAU OF PLANT INDUSTRY BUT VISAYAS AND MINDANAO CUSTOMS COMMISSIONER RUFFY BIAZON FRANCISCO COLLADO GENERAL SANTOS AND NUEVA ECIJA LOCAL ONION ONIONS
  • Latest
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with