THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it ordered more plans programs to boost the competitiveness of the Philippine onion and garlic crop.

In a statement, the DA said its policy and planning office (PPO), the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS), have been ordered to draft and implement “appropriate medium- and long-term policies and programs to enhance the competitiveness of the country’s onion and garlic industry.”

The instructions were contained in th DA’s Administrative Order no. 2, series of 2020.

The PPO was assigned to determine the annual onion and garlic requirement based on five years of data. It will also plan for a support and incentive system for farmers to encourage them to shift to high-value crops.

“We must define and operationalize medium- to long-term strateg(ies) that will, among others, provide the necessary support and counter-funding with organized farmers’ groups, accredited importers and traders, and local government units,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement.

The BPI is was assigned to monitor and evaluate domestic production, as well as to ensure food safety compliance by domestically-produced and imported onion and garlic.

The AMAS will undertake the “identification, information dissemination on onions and garlic, and updating of supply and demand (estimates), including institutional buyers, regular price advisories at retail markets, and market intelligence and surveillance.”

Meanwhile, non-compliant cold storage warehouse (CSW) operators specializing in garlic and onions, from the allium plant genus that also includes shallots and leeks, were given a grace period of six months to comply with food safety standards and register their facilities with the DA. All registered CSWs have been instructed to submit their inventory of local and imported allium products every two weeks to the Bureau of Plant Industry Allium Monitoring Team.

The DA said in crop season 2018-2019, the Philippines produced about 208,448 metric tons (MT) of red onion and 31,866 MT of yellow onion, and imported 11,488 MT of yellow onion.

Garlic production was 11,750 MT, while garlic imports totaled 71,048 MT. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang