THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it issued import clearances for red onions to address the inadequate domestic supply.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a briefing Friday the department has issued an import clearance for 35,000 metric tons of red onions, sourced from various countries, including China.

He said the clearance for the red onion imports will run for two months, as the department wants to avoid imports to coincide with the harvest.

“We will have to consider the caveats there. These red onions can only be brought in up until February so that it will not be in competition with the main harvest time starting March,” Mr. Dar said.

Citing the Bureau of Plant Industry, Mr. Dar said the DA estimated a two-month period when demand for red onions will be greater than supply.

Undersecretary for Operations Ariel T. Cayanan also said the department is looking at methods to increase the shelf life of onions, such as cold storage and processing onions into powder.

Mr. Dar added that agricultural damage due to calamities in 2019 declined to P16 billion from P34.45 billion a year earlier, adding to the DA’s optimism of achieving 2019 agriculture output growth of 2-2.5%.

“2018 has been badly affected not only because of floods but also drought… So nahati yung damage (in 2019) and hopefully overtime pababa (So the cost of damage in 2019 was reduced by half and I hope over time it will keep shrinking,” Mr. Dar said. — Denise A. Valdez and Vincent Mariel P. Galang