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Onion prices will be stable until November —Bureau of Plant Industry

The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) expects onion prices to remain steady until November and said they do not see them reaching last year's steep prices, which ranged from P500 to P700 because of the scarcity of supply. 

Assistant Director for Regulatory Services Ruel Gesmundo of the BPI on Wednesday, said this is because the country has enough supply of white and red onions from September to November.

Gesmundo made the statement during the House agriculture and food proprio inquiry into the possible hoarding and other acts of price manipulation by unscrupulous traders of agricultural commodities, particularly onions and garlic, which is being blamed for prices climbing to as much as P700 per kilo during the last quarter of 2022.

“We have 10,843 metric tons of white onions and 98,393.86 metric tons of red onions as of April 20. We expect it to last until November,” Gesmundo said.

House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of ACT Teachers party-list pressed Gesmundo if this means it is safe to say that the onion prices in the country will be stable until November when the planting season for onions starts anew, to which the BPI official replied “Yes.”

“We will hold you to your word that the onion prices will not reach P700 or P500 a kilo,” Castro pointed out.

Gesmundo responded in the affirmative.

“Yes, [it won’t happen] with the supply with that we have,” he said.

Castro, however, noted that having enough supply is not the only way to keep onion prices stable given that food, including onion prices, are still higher compared with last year’s prices.

“I go to the market every week, and the prices remain high. How can the DA (Department of Agriculture) be of aid to our farmers in this?” Castro asked.

DA Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista agreed with Castro that there is more to be done to bring down onion prices, which is now around P200 per kilo. 

“There are multiple layers of traders [in between the farmers and the market], and as far as production is concerned, the production cost remains high even though prices of certain agricultural inputs went down,” Evangelista pointed out.

“DA’s program on agricultural inputs should still be improved. DA gives agricultural inputs, but DA also has to make them affordable because the DA could only give a portion of it for free. We need to improve the farmers’ access to cheaper agricultural input,” Evangelista said.

“We need to help them in terms of granting machinery such as post-harvest facilities to prevent wastage which contribute in the farm gate pricing and stable pricing [in general],” Evangelista added.

The DA is headed by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who has yet to appoint a DA chief. —VAL, GMA Integrated News