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Plant Industry Bureau denies smuggled onions flooding Cagayan de Oro

The Bureau of Plant Industry on Saturday denied allegations that smuggled onions from Holland were flooding markets in Cagayan de Oro and stressed that nearly all available supplies came from Luzon.

In a statement, Officer-In-Charge and BPI Region X Manager Arnold dela Cruz Jr. said investigations and market monitoring by various offices of the Department of Agriculture disproved claims that rampant smuggling of onions in Cagayan de Oro had depressed prices.

Dela Cruz added that the regional office continuously monitored markets in the area in collaboration with the DA Regional Field Office and Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service.

The Plant Industry official also reported that price monitoring on Thursday in various markets in Cagayan de Oro City showed wholesale prices of red onion—both local and imported—were between P50 and P65 a kilo while imported white onions sold for P65 to P70 per kilo.

The retail price per kilo of local red onions was between P90 and P170, imported red onions were at P100, while imported white onions were priced between P90 and P180 per kilo.

The farm gate price of onions in Luzon, the primary source of onion supply, ranged from P35-P55 in January 2024.

The BPI also reported that data from the Plant Quarantine Office showed 307.1 metric tons of local red onions and 17.6 metric tons of imported white onions arrived at the seaports and airport of Cagayan de Oro City in January.

Meanwhile, 302.8 metric tons of local red onions arrived in the city in February.

“These local and import onions were sourced from Manila, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, and Nueva Ecija,” said dela Cruz.

Imported onions from China did arrive at the Port of Davao in December. These were transported by land to Cagayan de Oro City and were kept in a warehouse.

However, dela Cruz said that based on the domestic plant quarantine permits issued by the Plant Industry Bureau, 9.66 metric tons of these imported onions remained due to the slow demand for imported allium.

Meanwhile, Plant Industry Bureau Director Gerard Glenn Panganiban said his office had sought the assistance of the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Customs to step up monitoring and verification if smuggled onions found their way to Cagayan de Oro City.

The Bureau's National Plant Quarantine Service Division was also regularly monitoring Cagayan de Oro City and other parts of the country to determine the situation in public markets and cold storage facilities. — DVM, GMA Integrated News