P300-million loan facility set for Occidental Mindoro onion farmers

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will set aside a P300-million loan facility for onion farmers' cooperatives in Occidental Mindoro.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, April 4, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the loans will be used to purchase onions of the cooperatives' members for at least P15 per kilo. This is amid the drop in onion prices.

The loan facility, which can be up to P150,000 per cooperative, will also be available in other provinces that grow onions, such as Iloilo, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac. 

The Agricultural Credit Policy Council will be doling out an initial P30 million next week to accredited cooperatives, Piñol added. The members of these cooperatives will also have their produce stored in cold storage facilities with the help of the DA. 

"The DA will shoulder the payment of the storage fees estimated at P65 per bag for every month of storage," Piñol said.

"When the onion is kept in cold storage facilities, the cooperatives and the DA will monitor the price in the market and release the supply as soon as there is an upward trend."

In Piñol's visit to Occidental Mindoro last Wednesday, April 3, it was also announced that the construction of 4 cold storage facilities in provinces will be included in the 2020 budget proposal.

The move to support onion farmers comes after reports that there is a cartel barring onion farmers from storing their excess produce in cold storage facilities. Traders also dropped the buying prices to around P8 to P12 per kilo. (READ: Antitrust body to aid DA in onion cartel probe)

Piñol also said this week that the DA is working on exporting more agricultural products such as onions to Indonesia, amid talks to improve trade ties and regulate palm oil imports to the Philippines. – Rappler.com