DA says no plan to import onions as prices hit P500/kg
The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday said it is not considering the importation of onions given the expected harvest in the coming months, even as current prices of the commodity are more than double the suggested retail price.
According to DA deputy spokesperson Rex Estoperez, prices of onions have already reached up to P520 per kilogram in select markets in Metro Manila, with farmgate prices up to P300 per kilogram.
Monitoring of the DA shows that prices of local red onion in Metro Manila markets averaged P500 per kilogram on Tuesday, December 27, while there were no stocks available for the local white onion and the imported varieties.
Prices have even hit as high as P650 per kilogram at the Pritil Public Market in Manila, and up to P600 per kilogram at the Las Piñas market and others in Marikina, Guadalupe, and San Andres.
This is more than double the P170 per kilogram SRP set in October, which the DA said was imposed “in order not to aggravate the current difficulties of the Filipino people.”
“Ang presyo naman, ang nagdidikta niyan ay supply and demand, so kung mahina ang supply mong nanggagaling po sa ating produksyon, ang presyo ay tataas,” Estoperez said during the public briefing.
(Prices are dictated by supply and demand, so if the supply from production is weak, the prices will increase.)
“Meron tayong supply, hindi sobra-sobra [We have supplies, but not in abundance]” he added.
Prices have continued to increase for months now, with local red onions averaging P280 per kilogram on November 25, P250 per kilogram on November 11, and P180 per kilogram on October 25.
Estoperez said it would be hard to dictate prices of the commodity given the high cost of production, and strictly enforcing the SRP would deter farmers from selling.
“Mukhang sa enforcement, mahihirapan tayo dun kasi kung ilalagay natin sa ating mga kamay, ‘pag sabihin na natin, magdidikita, wala nang magbebenta niyan kasi mataas ang presyo ng puhunan nila,” he said.
(It looks like we will have difficulties in enforcement because if we place it in our hands and dictate, no one will be selling because of the high investment.)
He also noted that the harvest season of onions is expected in the coming months, but there is still no estimate as to the volume due to the recent typhoons that hit the country.
Some of the harvests are expected before the end of the year, which the DA plans to make available to the public through the Kadiwa or “Katurang sa Diwa at Gawa para sa Masaganang Ani at Mataas na Kita.”
“Hinahabol po namin by December 30, meron po tayong sibuyas. Ito po ay bagong harvest mula sa ating mga magsasaka at ipe-peg po natin ang presyo na mababa,” Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista said in a report on GMA’s “24 Oras.”
[We are pushing to have onions by December 30, coming from the harvest of our local farmers, with prices pegged to be lower.]
Evangelista said the prices are set to be even lower than P200 per kilogram, with the government shouldering some of the costs of production, including transportation.
According to Bonena Multipurpose Cooperative Chairman Israel Reguyal, the coming harvest is already the third attempt as the initial harvests were damaged.
“Actually, pangatlong ulit na po namin itong inaani namin na ‘to, kaya ‘yung aming sinasabi na production cost, halos times three po siya. Mga 20% lang po ang nagtutuloy out of 100 na itinanim,” he said.
[Actually, this is our third harvest which is why our production cost is nearly times three. Just 20% out of 100 planted are harvested.]
Moving forward, Estoperez said the DA will focus on possible interventions for the commodity, including credit for farmers, and providing them assistance in terms of logistics, transportation, cold storage, and packaging.
“Sa ngayon po hindi pa natin kino-consider ‘yung pag-import ng sibuyas, lalung-lalo itong commodity ng sibuyas, at tinitignan natin kung saan tayo nagkukulang even though alam natin there are imperfections sa sistema natin,” he said.
(Right now we are not yet considering the importation of onions, especially the commodity of onions, and we are looking at where we are lacking even though we know that there are imperfections in our system.) —KBK/VBL, GMA Integrated News