AMIDST the soaring prices of onions even after the holidays, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has changed its tune and said it will now allow the importation of onions.
DA deputy spokesperson Rex Estoperez said that market vendors would not heed the suggested retail price at P250 per kilo and continue to sell onions as high as P700-750 per kilo.
So the DA went to Tarlac and Nueva Ecija, the top producers of onions in the country.
What they found out was that the onion farmers have been receiving bidders from onion retail traders to as high as P500 per kilo. After agreeing with the highest bidders, the farmers would then harvest the onions.
The same is true, as well, in the Visayas and Mindanao provinces.
In a radio interview Saturday, the national government will now import some 22,000 metric tons of onions since “there is no other option.”
“It was estimated that we need an estimated 22,000 metric tons [of onions],” said Estoperez.
According to the agriculture official, imported onions must arrive by the last week of January or the first week of February for the country “to bring down the price of onions.”
As per the DA’s recommendation, 50 percent of the imported onions would go to Luzon, 25 percent to Visayas, and 25 percent to Mindanao. White onions will make up 10 percent of the 50 percent allotted for Luzon, he said.
In December 2022, DA reported that prices of red onions in Metro Manila public markets breached P700 to P720.
Estoperez noted that farmgate prices remain high due to “manipulation” by commodity traders who engage farmers in bidding.
“When we arrived, the farmgate price was only P280, and after a while, it went up to P350, P350 [per kilo], every hour, it kept increasing. Until we left, it became P450 [per kilo], so we didn’t see a decline in the farmgate prices,” he said.
As a result, he said that farmers would only harvest onions when the bidding is closed, which lessens the supply released in the public markets.
Prices of onion in Bicol and other areas outside Luzon, particularly in Visayas and Mindanao, according to Estoperez, have reached P500.
Last November, the DA said the government was considering the importation of 7,000 metric tons of red onions to put a halt on the surging prices of the commodity, but in late December, DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban announced that the department would not import onions for the rest of the year since farmers would start harvesting in January and February.
Onion farms in Nueva Ecija and Tarlac are expected to harvest their produce by late February and March, but Estoperez did not provide any specifics on the number of onions to be harvested due to the typhoons that ravaged the country.
Banner Photo Credit: Bureau of Customs