Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday, January 16 urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to heed President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s call to expand support for onion growers by boosting the government’s assistance for irrigation, and co-financing cold storage facilities to help improve the farmers’ output.
Hontiveros made the call as DA officials confirm that better access to irrigation would allow onion growers to plant even during traditional “off-seasons.”
The senator also pointed out establishing cold storage facilities would enable onion stocks harvested from February to April to last until the second semester of 2023.
“These reforms are needed so that high onion prices will soon be a thing of the past, and not a yearlong trigger for tears for Pinoys,” Hontiveros said.
President Marcos on Sunday, January 15 defended the government’s decision to import onions from other countries before embarking on his trip to Davos, Switzerland.
According to the President, the government finds it impossible to avoid importation given the huge gap between production and demand for onions.
Marcos cited the need to assist onion growers with production so there would be less need to import any agricultural product.
Hontiveros said she hopes that Malacanang’s announcement that the importation of onion products into the country will be “calibrated” is a firm policy commitment “and not an empty promise, for the sake of our farmers and their livelihood.”
“Importation should not be government's answer whenever prices of onions, sugar, eggs or other products increase. If left unchecked, importation is a double-edged sword which can slash the already meager earnings of our local farmers and other agricultural workers,” she said.
“This is why I continue to urge the Marcos administration to adopt a two-step policy of, one, importing only half of the 21,060 metric tons of onion authorized by the president and, two, waiting for the results of local onion harvests and checking if such local produce will sufficiently meet the nation’s demand,” the lawmaker said.