Onion farmers weep over imports, low prices

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Onion farmers weep over imports, low prices
A market vendor shows the size comparison of the onion bought from local farmers and a giant onion that came from an undisclosed origin at the Marikina City Public Market on January 23, 2023.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — Onion farmers from Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Mindoro held protests at the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s headquarters in Quezon City yesterday amid the flood of imported onions in the market.

The farmers urged President Marcos, concurrently agriculture secretary, to direct the Bureau of Plant Industry to halt the issuance of import permits as the price of local onions in cold storage facilities dropped to P70 per kilo from the previous P130 per kilo.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez told the protesting farmers they are willing to delay the release of imported onions to allow local farmers to release their stocks.

The 78,000 metric tons of local red onions in cold storage facilities will last for three months or until November, while the 827 MT out of 6,000 MT imported red onions that have already arrived in the country can be stored for four months.

“The onions can be stored for four months, and we will consult with our importers to delay the release (of imported onions) so that local farmers can release their stocks,” Estoperez said.

Local farmers should give assurance that the onion supply will be available in the market, he added.

“You should commit that the experience last year will not happen again after retail prices of onions soared (to as high as P720 per kilo) because of hoarding,” Estoperez noted.

The farmers present during the dialogue assured consumers of a steady supply.

Bongabon, Nueva Ecija onion farmer Efren Alvares said that farmers are discouraged from planting amid the flooding of imported onions in the market.

Elena Santos, another farmer from Nueva Ecija, called on the DA to ensure that no imported onions will be sold in the market while local stocks are still available in cold storage facilities.

Based on monitoring of the DA, the retail prices of local red onions ranged between P130 and P190 per kilo, local white onions at P120 and P170 per kilo and imported white onions at P100 and P170 per kilo.

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