MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is investigating the spike in garlic retail prices despite sufficient supply.
Farmers from various regions said traders have not been buying their produce, causing depleted supply of local garlic in Metro Manila.
“It appears that traders are not buying the produce of farmers. So as far as [the] farmers are concerned, there is no shortage of supply. So, we are investigating why this is happening,” DA Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) Director Leandro Gazmin said in a press briefing Monday, June 9.
Around 30% of the country’s garlic requirement is produced locally while 70% is imported.
Imported garlic prices rose to as high as P290 per kilogram, while local garlic is now at P180 per kg in supermarkets and major trading centers in Metro Manila.
The prevailing retail price for local garlic is double the average farmgate price of P100 to P130 per kg.
The DA also convened Monday the National Garlic Action Team to determine the cause of the price spikes and come up with solutions. The team is composed of representatives from the DA High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), academe, and the private sector.
The committee findings will become a basis for the imposition of possible sanctions against traders found responsible for price manipulation.
Gazmin said such traders may suffer sanctions under the Price Act, which punishes such offenses with imprisonment of not less than a year but no more than 10 years and fine of not less than P5,000 but not more than P1 million.
For the meantime, the DA AMAS is assisting farmers’ cooperatives in Mindoro, Nueva Vizcaya, and Batanes to distribute their produce in major trading centers in Metro Manila.
Over the weekend, DA-AMAS fielded 50 trucks to sell 435,000 kg of locally produced garlic in public markets in Marikina, Pasig, and Commonwealth and Nepa-Q Mart in Quezon City.
Local garlic will be sold at a suggested retail price of P170 per kg.
“Garlic prices usually rise at this time of the year but not in this magnitude,” Gazmin said.
Gazmin added the DA-AMAS would continue to assist farmers in the distribution of their produce while supply is abundant.
“This will be done under our regular market distribution program,” said Gazmin.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the national harvest of garlic increased in 2013 to 8,650 metric tons from 8,490 MT during the same period last year. – Rappler.com