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Govt plans to import 22K MT of onions

May 17 ----- THE government is considering importing 22,000 metric tons (MT) of onions to stabilize prices of the bulbs in the country, a Department of Agriculture (DA) official said

DA Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez said the farmgate price of onion is at P120 per kilo, and it is being sold in markets at P200, which he said is still high. Estoperez added that they are also looking into the 117,000 MT of onions available in cold storages and with that volume, he said, it might take months for it to be consumed, hence the unreasonably high prices. "So other alternatives that we have considered also is that, will we import? If those prices continue, we might import but on a regulated calculated basis," the DA official said.

Estoperez noted that the quantity of onions that the government plans to import is based on the information from the Bureau of Plant Industry that the country consumes 22,000 MT of onions a month. "So if we're contemplating importing, maybe within that figure. What's important for us is how to bring down the prices in the market," he said.

Another alternative that the DA is considering is to collaborate with Metro Manila mayors to strictly implement the suggested retail price (SRP) to stabilize the prices of the commodity. "If you don't have the police power, it (SRP) will not be followed unless there is a collaboration among LGUs (local government units) because they have the police power to implement that through market masters and in our wet markets," Estoperez said. As of now, we don't have the police power to compel traders to release onions," he said.

With the available stocks and increasing prices, he noted that there "seems" to be hoarding. "If there are stocks in the cold storages and they are not being released, then the price is increasing, they're manipulating the release of the stocks and manipulating the price," Estoperez said. He added that the Agriculture department is also looking into onion price reference and price cap to stabilize the price of the bulbs.

Based on the price monitoring of the DA as of May 16, 2023, local red onion was priced at P160 to P200 per kilo while white onion was sold at P150 to P200 a kilo.



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