Marcos admin readies ‘calibrated importation’ of onions

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who also heads the Agriculture department, gave the go signal for his administration’s “calibrated importation” of onions to address its surging prices in the market but protect farmers at the same time.

Red onions (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Department of Agriculture (DA) Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista announced this during a press briefing on Saturday, Jan. 14.

She assured that the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) would consider the harvest season so farmers won’t suffer from the importation of onions, considered “high-value” crops.

“So a calibrated importation was something they had to look into . . . As of now, we are waiting for reports kung ilan po ang nag-apply (how many will apply), and at the same time, I don’t know if you noticed, mayroon pong (there is a) cutoff iyong ating (to our) importation unlike before,” she explained, adding that the BPI put these parameters in place to safeguard the harvest of farmers.

Marcos had already approved the importation of some 21,060 metric tons (MT) of onions, fewer by a thousand MT that the DA recommended.

This was done despite warnings from some agricultural sector and farmers groups that the decision to import onions at this time might result in its oversupply.

READ: DA approves importation of 21,060 MT of onions

During the briefing, Evangelista noted that the farmgate price of onions has already gone down to P250 per kilo.

“But this is something that we have to validate because it might just be in one area, but so far, from the reports, I am receiving from the farmers themselves, and even some institutional buyers, there has been already a decline pagdating po sa (when it comes to) farmgate price,” the DA official said.

In December, onion prices spiked to as high as P450 to P460, a statement from the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) claimed, but recent social media posts showed onions being sold for as much as P800 per kilo.

Currently, DA’s daily monitoring of 13 markets in Metro Manila showed that retail prices of onions are at the P400 to P550 level per kilo.

Evangelista admitted that the current market prices are still high.

“Mataas pa rin po iyan (That is still high) considering the cost structure of the onions, this is the production cost because we also talk to our farmers to find out how much it costs to produce onions,” she said.

Analysts pointed out that the prices of onions skyrocketed primarily because of these factors: low supply, smuggling and cartels, price manipulation, and global inflation.