Clampdown on garlic price manipulation set | Inquirer Business

Clampdown on garlic price manipulation set

/ 01:36 AM September 05, 2014

The Department of Agriculture will not tolerate the involvement of its officials in the manipulation of garlic prices that spiked last June, according to the department’s spokesperson.

Agriculture Undersecretary Emerson U. Palad yesterday said the DA even assisted the Department of Justice’s investigation on the matter.

The DOJ on Wednesday issued a report which recommended the dissolution of the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT), which was meant to help ensure the stability of supplies but instead contributed to the skyrocketing of prices.


In June, the DA was prompted to deploy rolling stores in key market places of Metro Manila as prices skyrocketed to P290 a kilo for imported garlic and P180 per kilo for the local variety.


Palad said the DA saw the DOJ probe as “another opportunity to reinforce reforms that we have been instituting in the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI),” referring to the agency that issues the necessary clearance for garlic importation.

“While we wait to receive a copy of the  official report from the DOJ, we assure the public that we shall not tolerate any of our officials when proven guilty of any wrongdoing that led to the perceived manipulation of garlic prices,” he said.

The DOJ found that there was no shortage of garlic while prices were skyrocketing, the same conclusion of the DA’s Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) that assessed the supply situation in June.

The DOJ also said the NGAT was “unnecessary and unhelpful” in ensuring a stable supply of the flavory bulb.

The NGAT comprises representatives of farmers cooperatives, processors, traders, vendors and the academe.

Also represented in the NGAT are DA-supervised agencies—some of which are the BPI, High Value Crops Development Program, and AMAS—as well as the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Interior and Local Government.


Palad explained that the NGAT is a consultative group that recommends a course of action based on its assessment of the industry situation.

“Import allocation is never part of [the NGAT’s] mandate,” he said.

Last July, Palad said Clarito Barron—who was BPI chief at the height of the price spike—has been transferred to a different office of the DA after agri-business groups called for his resignation.

Palad said Barron is now detailed to the department’s field operations office to assist the undersecretary in ensuring that overall agricultural output is increasing.

Also yesterday, the new BPI director Assistant Secretary Paz J. Benavidez II said only two cooperatives are so far seeking accreditation under the new guidelines meant to weed out questionable importers.

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Under the old guidelines, there were 60 accredited groups.

TAGS: Agriculture, Business, Clampdown, Department of Agriculture, garlic

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