The Department of Agriculture (DA), under its High-Value Crops Development Program, is allotting an additional P94.6 million this year to further prop up onion production.
The amount will be mainly used to procure planting materials of red and yellow onion varieties, as well as organic and inorganic fertilizers, which will be distributed to major onion-growing provinces, according to a news release.
The move was the result of a recent consultation chaired by Agriculture Secretary William Dar with onion farmer-leaders from Nueva Ecija and Mindoro.
Among the major concerns raised by the farmer-leaders were the decreasing prices of local onions due to the continued influx of imported ones, which are sold cheaper.
Farmgate price of onions dipped by P6 per kilo in 2021.
They also asked the DA for assistance in marketing their produce and establishment post-harvest and storage facilities, to which Dar committed to regulate the entry of imports and the establishment of more cold storage facilities in strategic areas to prolong the shelf life of local harvest.
“We have been addressing the issue of space and storage since 2018 to allow our farmers to temporarily tuck away their surplus. In fact, we have finished the construction of three warehouses since then, valued at P20 million each, thus totaling P60 million,” Dar said.
Five more facilities are under construction, including a state-of-the-art center in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, valued at PHP40 million, funded under the DA’s Farm and Fishery Consolidation and Clustering (F2C2) Program.
He said the DA’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service will continue to assist and link farmers direct to institutional buyers and markets, and to negotiate with the Food Terminal Incorporated (FTI) for a possible marketing and storage agreement, that will allow onion farmers’ groups to use available space at FTI Taguig as drop-off point while waiting for buyers.
To ease production and post-production activities, P31.97 million will be allocated for the mechanization of the industry this year. The fund will cover the acquisition of hauling trucks, tractors, hand tractors, seeders, and multicultivators, among others.
Another P3.7M will go to the construction of irrigation systems in different onion-producing onion areas.
Onion production declined by 11,000 metric tons (MT) last year, from its 2020 level, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
For the third quarter of 2021, Ilocos Region recorded the highest production with 8.04 MT, sharing 61.2 percent of the total production this quarter. This was followed by Soccsksargen at 18.3 percent and Cagayan Valley with 13.7 percent share.
The Bureau of Plant Industry was also tasked to manage efficiently the issuance of import permits, ensuring that imports must not come in during harvest, so as not to depress farmgate and retail prices of onions.
In January, the DA thwarted the entry of smuggled red onions valued at P101 million.