Yesterday, president Rosendo So from farmer’s group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) said that smuggled white onions flood local wet markets, saying confiscated bulbs of the Department of Agriculture only represent 10 percent of the illegal products. So was referring to the 105 sacks of smuggled white onions recently intercepted in three public markets in Metro Manila.
"The DA confiscates 10 percent of the total volume of smuggled white onions. The bulk, or 90 percent, ends up in the local markets," So said in an interview. The smuggled white onions totaling 744 kilos and valued at P225,000 were seized at Divisoria Market in Manila, Mutya ng Pasig Public Market in Pasig City and Balintawak Market in Quezon City.
At the same time, So said that members of Sinag and officials from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) will visit onion plantations and cold storage facilities on Friday to determine the actual standing crops and the remaining stocks of red onions. So reiterated the need to import onions to boost the supply of the bulbs with the expected increase in the demand this December.
Nueva Ecija onion farmers do not gain from high prices
The soaring retail price of onions should help local growers earn a stable income, but it has hardly been the case. Regional small-scale farmers are still struggling to make ends meet and many of them have actually been forced to plant corn as an alternative crop.
Despite ranging between P280 and P300 per kilo, the prevailing market price of red onions has not directly benefited the farmers since they are still in the cropping season. “Traders have been buying our harvests at P1,700 per bag, which is equivalent to about 28 kilos,” one grower said. He said he and his colleagues had been baffled of late by the staggering rise in the price of onions, leading them to suspect “manipulation” on the part of the traders.
Officials of the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Plant Industry said they were still trying to check the supply situation and determine the cause of the rising retail prices of red onions in the market.