Food producers urged to buy onions directly from farmers
MANILA, Philippines – An agribusiness group is urging food manufacturers to source their onions directly from farmers in Central Luzon to help them against traders of imported and smuggled produce.
The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) said onion growers in the region are forced to slash the prices of their produce rather than leave them unsold and rotten, as traders overstock on imported onions.
“Before thousands of onion farmers lose their shirts and give up farming altogether, we enjoin the Department of Agriculture, big food processors, and supermarket chains to buy their onions directly at the farm gate for around P12 ($0.27) per kilo just so onion growers could at least ‘break even,’” said Sinag chair Rosendo So.
Onion growers in Nueva Ecija are having difficulty disposing of their produce despite having reduced farm gate prices of white onions to P10 ($0.23) to P12 ($0.27) per kilogram and that of red onion to P7 ($0.16) to P9 ($0.20) per kilogram, said Sinag chair Rosendo So.
The retail price of onions in markets remain at P35 ($0.79) to P40 ($0.90) per kilo, So said.
So added that agents of onion traders in Nueva Ecija remain cautious about buying onions from local farmers, as most warehouses of traders in Manila and nearby provinces “are full of imported and smuggled onions.”
Sinag said that smugglers are now using some ports in Mindanao to smuggle rice and onion.
“Onion traders in Luzon therefore see no need to supply onions in the Visayas and Mindanao,” said So.
Sinag said that these onion traders “are the same group of unscrupulous businessmen behind the stratospheric rise of garlic prices last year.”
The difference of onion price from farm gate to retail of P25 ($0.56) to P30 ($0.68) per kilo is a glaring example of price manipulation by a cartel of traders and importers who have total control of onion supply, So said.
The ideal situation is for onion growers to sell their produce by at least P12 ($0.27) per kilo for white onions and at least P15 ($0.34) per kilo for red onions, So illustrated.
“Retail prices for onions should only be P25 ($0.56) per kilo,” So said.
Sinag, an umbrella organization of agribusiness, is also encouraging eateries to serve onion-based snacks and dishes to help Filipino onion growers earn.
It said the organization can make transport arrangements for food establishments and vendors’ associations or any group interested in helping local onion growers.
In Nueva Ecija alone, onion growers are projected to harvest 10.2 million kilos of white onion and about 75.3 million kilos of red onion this harvest season that will peak in the next two weeks.
In 2013, local onion production reached 134 million kilos, while the government reported onion imports were placed at 8.5 million kilos in the same year. – Rappler.com
US$1 = P44.29
Onions image from Shutterstock