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DA to address lack of white onions in market


The Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed on Wednesday there is a lack of supply of white onions in the market, but is already taking steps to address the matter.

"'Yung sa white onions, wala na talagang supply. Tiningnan natin 'yung inventory at wala na tayong supply ng white onion. Kaya kahit sa mga palengke, kahit dito mismo sa bagsakan e walang white onion, siyempre po walang makakarating lalo na sa palengke," DA Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista said in an interview on Unang Balita on Wednesday.

(There is really no supply of white onions now. We looked at inventory and there is no more supply. Even in wet markets and in "bagsakan" places, there is no more supply.)

Evangelista said no white onions are also available in supermarkets, restaurants, and institutional buyers, based on their discussion with buyers.

At the Cloverleaf Market in Balintawak, Quezon City, no white onions have been available in the past two weeks, according to a report of Susan Enriquez on GMA News' Unang Balita on Wednesday.

"Mga two weeks na walang puting sibuyas... Wala raw dating na imported [na sibuyas]," market vendor Rosario Pangilinan said.

(It has been two weeks already that we have no white onions. No imported onions came in, they said.)

The last time she sold white onions, the price was P250 per kg, Pangilinan said.

For now, she has been selling only red onions at P110 per kg.

"Hindi masyadong tumataas [ang presyo], she said.

(The price of red onions is steady.)

Pangilinan said the government should import white onions to fill the demand in the market.

The DA said it is indeed considering importing white onions to fill in the demand, Evangelista said.

"Initially kasi kailangan natin ng availability tsaka siyempre dapat mababa ang presyo kaya ang tinitingnan natin ang pag-angkat," Evangelista said.

(Initially, since we need availability and of course to keep the price down, we are looking at importing [white onions].)

"Pero kung gaano karami ang ating aangkatin at hanggang kailan tayo mag-aangkat, 'yan ang pag-uusapan with the producers para hindi sumabay 'yung pagpasok ng ating imported na onions doon sa harvest season ng ating mga magsasaka," she said.

(But as to how much we will import and up to when we will do so, we will have to discuss this with producers so as not to have the imported onions come in at the same time farmers harvest their crops.)

Evangelista said that aside from the high cost of fuel and fertilizers, the seeds of white onions are also priced higher.

"Bukod po doon [sa mataas na presyo ng gasolina at fertilizer], 'yung binhi ng white onion mas mahal compared sa red onion. So 'yan din po ang tinitingnan natin on the production side kung paano natin sila [farmers] tutulungan," she said.

(Aside from those [high prices of fuel and fertilizer], the seed of white onion is also priced higher compared to that of red onion. So we are also studying how we can help farmers on the production side.)

"Meron na tayong mga tulong na binigay sa ating mga rice farmers 'di ba. So titingnan naman natin kung paano natin matutulungan 'yung mga high-value crops [farmers] po pagdating sa assistance tsaka subsidiya sa kanilang produksiyon," Evangelista said.

(We already have assistance for rice farmers. So we are looking into how we can help high-value crop farmers in terms of assistance and subsidy in their production cost.)

The DA official said they are set to meet with onion growers on Wednesday to determine how the government can help them to plant more white onions.

As for red onions, Evangelista said the DA is monitoring the supply and pricing.

"Binabantayan namin ngayon itong red onions...Kailangan nating makita ang inventory status pati ng cold storage facilities at makikipag-usap nga po kami sa mga magsasaka para sa cost structure," she said.

(We are monitoring the red onions. We need to see the inventory status and cold storage facilities and we will talk to farmers for the cost structure.)

"Kasi kahit ipasok natin ang gastos sa cold storage facility, dapat makita natin kung magkano dapat binabagsak dito sa Balintawak at sa mga iba pang bagsakan ang ating mga red onion," Evangelista added. 

(This is because even if we take into account the cost of storage facility, we should also see how much the "bagsakan" prices of red onions in Balintawak and other areas should really be.) —KG, GMA News

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