Agri dept to set price cap on imported onions
The Manila Times
AN official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday said the agency will impose a price cap on the retail price of imported onions effective Wednesday, January 25, to ensure that the outsourced bulbs will not hurt local farmers. DA deputy spokesman Rex Estoperez said the department is eyeing between P100 and P150 per kilo, saying the cost of production of the farmers should be considered. “We should be very careful. We have to put a cap on the imported ones. The final figure on the cost of production is very important,” Estoperez said. The imported onions have started to arrive in the country. All the 5,000 metric tons (MT) of imported onions should arrive on or before Jan. 27, 2023. “For the imported ones, they should not cost below the cost of production. If it is below the cost of production, the farmers will suffer losses. Right now, we are planning to visit the production areas to get the final figure,” Estoperez said, adding that he is scheduled to visit onion farms in Nueva Ecija and Occidental Mindoro. He said the projection of Albay Second District Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente “Joey” Salceda that the retail price of onions should drop to P50 per kilo is not possible. “We are looking at P100 to P150. If the cost of production is lower than P100 [per kilo], the better, but not what was published, P50 [per kilo]. We will still check but based on our earlier consultation with the farmers, the cost of production is more than P50. It will affect our onion producers,” Estoperez noted. He said there is an upward trend on retail prices of onions globally. The retail prices of onions are expected to normalize with the increase in the volume from local harvest and arrival of the imported bulbs. “Some markets are still selling at P320 [per kilo]. The retail price should go down to at least P200 [per kilo] with the harvest coming in and [also] the imports; if not, we have a problem with the cartel and price manipulators,” Estoperez said. DA Assistant Secretary and spokesman Kristine Evangelista said the farmgate price of onions had dropped to P120 per kilo. Based on monitoring of the DA on Tuesday, the retail price of onions in Metro Manila markets ranged from P200 to P350 per kilo. Estoperez allayed fears that the imported onions will harm the local farmers. “It will not hurt the farmers, as before we decided to import we considered the volume and the timing of arrival, and there is a very short window on the arrival of imported onions, which is until January 27. We respect the resolution in Congress authored by [Gabriela party-list] Rep. [Arlene] Brosas, but we assure them [that the farmers will not suffer,” he said. The official gave assurances that the DA will monitor the release of the imported bulbs. “With the coming harvest and imports, we are OK for now. What we will consider is the off-season, and that will be in August, September. We don’t want a repeat of what we experienced in December and the holidays where we had difficulty in [getting] onions,” Estoperez said. Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Information Section officer in charge Jose Diego Roxas said the government will release the imported onions in the market starting this week. “We expect within this week, consumers can already buy the imported onions in the market,” he said at the Laging Handa briefing. He said there are at least 218 MT of white onions and 317 MT of red onions in accredited cold storage facilities. “The imported bulbs are undergoing a second border inspection. Under this process, all the container vans are being inspected to make sure that what was declared is the actual content inside the vans,” Roxas added.