DA steps up to help onion farmers
After the farmgate price of local onions dove by 50 percent due to the unimpeded entry of imported bulb onions in the market and alleged price manipulation by traders, the Department of Agriculture has decided to provide cooperatives capital and reefer vans to help local farmers cope.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on his Facebook page that the agency would give P200 million in working capital to cooperatives to enable them to buy their members’ produce “to protect them from price manipulation by traders.”
The secretary has also ordered officials to source reefer vans that could be used as temporary storage facilities for onion farmers.
“These twin moves were in response to the recommendations made to neutralize the manipulation by traders of the onion pricing as harvest comes into full swing,” Piñol said.
Farmers have been reeling from low farm-gate prices currently at P15 a kilogram from a high of P30 a kilo.
The bumper harvest in Central Luzon, Mindoro and Iloilo is making it even more difficult for local growers to find traders who would buy their produce.
DA has suspended the importation of bulb onions pending the result of an investigation being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine Competition Commission into a cartel allegedly forcing local onion producers to slash prices by as much as 50 percent.
It involves four major trading firms in Nueva Ecija—considered the “onion capital of the Philippines”—that reportedly closed down their cold storage facilities in time for the harvest season to force farmers to sell their produce at low prices.
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