Davao del Sur town to boost onion farming

Published January 23, 2023, 11:42 PM

by Keith Bacongco

The local government of Magsaysay in Davao del Sur is planning to boost onion farming along with other high-value crops amid the rising price of the commodity.

FARMERS harvest onions in a remote barangay in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur. (Photo courtesy of MAO Magsaysay)

Municipal Agriculture Office chief Helen Caramptana told Manila Bulletin that the upland areas of Magsaysay are suitable for onion and other high-value crops.

Over the weekend, pictures of a farmer harvesting onions from Magsaysay made rounds on social media and has prompted netizens to call on the government to support local onion farmers.

Caramptana revealed that onion farming is not new in Magsaysay, adding that some farmers in lowland areas have ventured into this crop sometime in 2010 or 2012.

“However, they did not succeed after the onions were hit by a fungal disease,” she recalled over the phone. “After the failed cropping, they did not plant again.”

A lone B’laan farmer continued to cultivate onions in a borrowed 200 square-meter lot in the hinterland barangay of Bacungan, the municipal agriculturist disclosed. “He is a very hardworking farmer, he persisted and now he’s earning from his produce.”

Caramptana said the farmer was able to harvest almost 300 kilos of onions after three months.

She added that a buyer from North Cotabato has offered to buy all his onions for a wholesale price of P200 per kilo.

As the town’s climate and soil characteristic are suitable for onion farming and other high-value crops, Caramptana said the local government is encouraging farmers to engage into diversified farming.

Caramptana pointed out that growing onion is very tricky and requires a huge capital compared to other high-value crops.

She cited that the B’laan farmer who also grows ginger and tomatoes spent P10,000 for onion seeds to be planted on the lot. “These are the reasons why only a few farmers are willing to gamble on this crop.”

Amid of these challenges, Caramptana said at least 40 farmers have signified their intention to avail of the free seeds from the Department of Agriculture Regional Office-11 once these will be available next month.

Ronnie Mahinay, project assistant of the High-Value Crops Development Program of the DA Regional Office-11, said the DA has been supporting onion farmers in towns of Magsaysay and Matanao, also in Davao del Sur.

“We are regularly providing seeds to our onion farmers. But their produce is just enough for the local market or within their municipalities only,” Mahinay bared.

He said the DA has allocated 20 kilos of onion seeds per farmer association. There are three farmer groups in Magsaysay and another in Matanao.

Onion farming is indeed very tricky, he said. “Kailangan bini-baby, very tricky. Last cropping season at least one-fourth hectare of onions were destroyed due to rains.”