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Price of onions may reach P120 per kilo, unless govt allows imports – farmers

October 2, 2008 4:21pm
MANILA, Philippines – The price of onions may rise to P120 per kilo in the coming months unless the government allows importation of the vegetable to boost a shortage in supply, according to farmers belonging to the Sibuyas ng Pilipinas ay Alagaan (SIPAG) Foundation Inc.

Specifically, SIPAG wants the Bureau of Plant Industry to allow the importation of 10,000 to 10,800 metric tons (MT) of onions to prevent any price increase.

According to SIPAG, the current supply of onions may not be enough to satisfy the demand since onion production for the current crop year dropped substantially by almost half due to continuous rain during both the planting and harvest seasons.

Farmers expect a dryer weather at harvest time.

From the usual yearly onion output of four million bags, this declined to 2.2 million bags this year.

"We’re working on a drive to ask government to start issuing import permits for the purpose of price stabilization, or else we can be blamed for the high price," a SIPAG official, who declined to be identified, told reporters.

"Issuance should not be open at one time and closed at another time until you find out the permits have already been issued to favored ones," the official added. "We’re raising the red flag because if there was a shortage last year, the shortage this year could be worse."

The price of onions rose to P120 per kilo last December.

The current price of red onions ranges from P48 to P62 per kilo.

SIPAG officials is urging government to implement a more systematic way of issuing onion import permits, perhaps through a "first-come, first-serve" basis or through bidding.

In the past, the government has been issuing to a select few that have earned substantially from importation, according to SIPAG.

These are Lin Kim Kok (LKK), Vanida Trading owned by Choi Lim, 505 or Pian Long Merchandise, Onion Triple A (Kenny Sy), Albert Ching, and Sy Ling Hood (Leo Chan).

Moreover, because of government’s inability to put in place a system, even farmers from the Union of Growers and Traders of Onion in the Philippines (UGAT) have been involved in an illegal reselling of permits at a high price of P400,000 per permit, they claimed. - D’Jay Lazaro, GMANews.TV
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