DA suspends onion importation

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has ordered the suspension of importation of bulb onions following reports that there may be a cartel barring farmers from storing their excess crops in cold storage facilities 

In a post on Friday, March 22, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said they would only allow importation again after the harvest season to avoid the influx of too many onions in the market. 

"The traders are expected to consolidate the local production as they await for the time when they will be allowed to import," Piñol said.

"With the farmers' produce bought at very low prices cornered and consolidated, traders could control the pricing of [o]nion in the market and generate huge profits."

Last year, the DA had set a suggested retail price for onions in a bid to control the market. 

Piñol in a seperate post asked the Philippine Competition Commission and the National Bureau of Investigation to look into companies that may have closed down cold storage facilities to prevent farmers from keeping their onions longer.

Piñol added that this will force farmers to sell their onions at a lower price as they cannot keep stocks for the off-season.

"Among the companies targeted for investigation for possible violation of Fair Competition and Economic Sabotage are Rivson, Argo, Kasamne, and Titan, all in Nueva Ecija," Piñol said. 

As some of the cold storage facilities were built and turned over to the farmers cooperatives by the DA, the agriculture chief said that these traders may have connived with some farmers cooperatives.

Aside from onions, Piñol also renewed his call to ban palm oil imports amid dropping copra prices. – Rappler.com