A “small” portion of onion production in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro is considered as “poor quality” by the Department of Agriculture (DA) but the agency clarified on Friday, April 8, that it does not reflect the entire quality of production in the province.
DA-Mimaropa Executive Director Antonio Gerundio explained that he was only referring to the poor quality of onion production of new growers in Mamburao when he made a controversial statement about the status of product wastage in the entire Occidental Mindoro.
“Maraming mga new growers, new entrance na hindi pa masyadong mahusay magtanim ng sibuyas at kaya ang pagalaga nito during harvesting ay hindi nila masyadong na-manage pati ang pest and diseases na umaatake sa kanilang sibuyas (There are many new growers who are not yet well-experienced in planting onions. They were not able to manage their crops well and prevent disease and pests from infesting their onions),” he said in a press briefing.
Further, Gerundio bared that about 40 percent of the growers in Mamburao are not yet members of cooperatives which prevented them from receiving various benefits, interventions, and support services from the DA.
He said the poor management of harvests resulted to overproduction of onions and the wastage of many products since not all of them are sold in the market.
“The major cause is overproduction as area planted doubled this season due to the high income earned by farmers last year when farm gate price stayed at 42 pesos. The local storage cannot accommodate the big surplus that resulted to stop buying operations of local traders,” Gerundio reported.
The DA-Mimaropa was put on a bad light recently after Gerundio reportedly blamed the poor quality of onions in Occidental Mindoro in explaining why there was a surplus of products in the province. Due to oversupply, many growers were forced to just throw or burn the onions.
The current price of onion is at P12 to P15 per kilo which is below the breakeven or production cost per kilo of P18.
To address the issues on production, the department has distributed 1,500 cans of red onion seeds to onion farmers which is equivalent to 600 kilos (good for 375 hectares for Occidental Mindoro) and 500 cans equivalent to 200 kilos (good for 125 hectares for Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro); and 6,000 cans on onion seeds equivalent to 2,400 kilos (good for 1,500 hectares for Occidental Mindoro onion farmers).
The department’s High-Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) also conducted training in onion production in Occidental and Oriental Mindoro.
The DA also provided cold storage and hauling trucks to cooperatives to address the oversupply of onions in the province, including the Royale Cold Storage of Cabuyao, Laguna, which can accommodate a total capacity of 15,552 pallets or a maximum load of one metric ton per pallet.
In the case of non-operating cold storage facilities from the regional office, Gerundio explained that the main problem was the delayed installation of transformers by the Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc. (OMECO) since the province is experiencing a provincial-wide rotational brownout.
“We shall soon write a formal letter to OMECA to fast-track the installation of the transformers,” the DA official said.
“The DA RFO 4-Mimaropa is currently doing its best in cushioning the impact of low buying prices of onion among its growers by encouraging them to be a member of cooperatives whom the agency is helping to avail cold storage services,” he added.