Latest Stories

Hundreds of onion farmers, traders decry importation allowed by DA


MANILA, Philippines — Hundreds of onion farmers and traders from Nueva Ecija protested at the Department of Agriculture (DA) headquarters in Quezon City, on Monday, lamenting the agency’s “inappropriate, ill-timed” issuance of import permits.

Seth V. Bentain, spokesperson of the Sibuyas ng Pilipinas Ating Alagaan (Sipag, Let’s Care for Philippine Onions), said in an interview they would like the multi-stakeholder body, National Onion Action Team or NOAT, to be abolished and replaced with a new one with a clean slate.

Bentain said some 300 farmers came on Monday aboard buses and private vehicles, and were joined by garlic farmers and traders with similar concerns. Garlic growers are represented in the similarly made-up National Garlic Action Team.

The protesters came from the towns of Bongabon, Laur and Sto. Domingo. They left DA’s front gates by noon to return to Nueva Ecija.

“Our main concerns include the lack of support whatsoever for the local onion industry – not a centavo of subsidy nor a single piece of seed,” Bentain said.

“We also decry the improper issuance of import permits and the rampant smuggling of onions (from abroad), which hurt our business,” he added.

Bentain, himself an onion grower, said the DA has been using wrong data in deciding when to allow importation, and has allowed imports during harvest and when there were big onion stocks in cold storage facilities.

“Worse, they issue as many as 180 permits in one blow,” he said. “How can that be of any support to us local stakeholders?”

Clarito Barron, director of the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), dismissed as baseless the accusations that the BPI has been playing favorites in the issuance of import permits.

“The government’s policy on onion importation is anchored on transparency and consultation,” Barron said in a statement.

He cited the NOAT itself, describing it as being composed of stakeholders from the government and private sector, and non-government organizations such as farmer groups and associations.

Any decision on onion importation “is fully discussed based on the data and information collected by the BPI Allium Task Force such as onion inventory, local production as well as the prevailing market price,” Barron said.

He said that the BPI has been regularly communicating with Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon to apprehend and confiscate smuggled onions.

He said that in 2012, a total of 32 forty-foot container vans of contraband were seized, and which were eventually disposed of and condemned.

“If ever there is an unforeseen insufficient supply of onions, NOAT will recommend importation for a certain period based on actual needs,” Barron said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Business , Department of Agriculture , food crops , onion importation , onions , Protest

  • opinyonlangpo

    The imported onions and garlic are better and cheaper and the people should not be denied of it because of the local growers. Their demand for subsidy should satisfy all parties.

  • Manong_Kwarog

    The good thing for him is that “matatanggal lang naman siya sa pwesto at hanggang doon lang….walang kulong” kaya sige banat pa!!!! wala pa naman nakukulong sa pagnanakaw at pagiging corrupt sa gobyerno………

  • Manong_Kwarog

    Gauge 25 (papel de liha) talaga ang kapal ng face………huli na!!!….bumabanat pa rin?

  • Manong_Kwarog

    Surprise….Surprise!!!…..its again Alcala……watch out for more…pork importation, rice importation…..its a never ending money making……..lantaran talaga.

  • I’m Yellow & I’m a Retard

    Please don’t be so onion-skinned. Tito Prosi Alcala and Tito Clarito Barron know what they’re doing. Using a special computer modelling program, Tito Prosi and Tito Clarito are able to predict the shortfall in onion supplies ahead of everyone else. Even ahead of any unforeseen weather disturbances. The 180 special permits issued by DA with basis. On top of that, of course the SOP of at least 30%. My Tito Noynoy also gets a percentage. By flooding the Philippines with foreign onions, we will spice up the lives of many poor and hungry Filipinos. Let’s all support my Tito Noynoy in spreading more onions around.

  • 007

    Sorry guys, onion and garlic self-sufficiency is not part of this administration’s agricultural agenda.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Cardinal Tagle: Start new life with true peace
  • ‘Dry spell’ delayed, thanks to busted valve
  • At 77, Erap has Easter treat for Manila cops but keeps City Hall folk in agony
  • Joy Belmonte defends council, waste-to-energy tech
  • House bill seeks special body to manage, protect Manila Bay
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • ‘Pacquiao a great ambassador for basketball’
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Awarded TV couple brings Jesus’ life to the big screen
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • Marketplace