A PARTY-LIST organization said Occidental Mindoro farmers must be compensated for losses incurred from onion farming, which it claims stem from liberalized imports and an inability to charge fair prices.
Farmers from Magsaysay, Oriental Mindoro cannot earn a living on a farmgate price of about P18 per kilogram and a cost of production of more than P180,000 per hectare over a 120-day cropping period, Anakpawis party-list said in a statement.
Anakpawis blamed the “continuing liberalization in agriculture, where onion imports are actually promoted by the Department of Agriculture itself, lack of production support and regulation of the local farm gate trade of the harvested onions.”
Anakpawis said that the government should provide seed, other inputs, and fuel and purchase the farmers’ harvest at P50 per kilogram.
It also urged the Land Bank of the Philippines to write off the farmers’ loans.
“For the long term, there should be adequate production support and infrastructure development such as irrigation, provision of farm equipment and post-harvest facilities such as cold-storage warehouses,” Anakpawis said.
It also called on civil society groups and organizations to directly purchase onions at fairer prices than those on offer from traders.
In a statement, the Department of Agriculture said that it is working on various interventions for onion farmers.
“Local storage cannot accommodate big surpluses… We recognize the need for more storage space (beyond) the two cold storage facilities that we have granted to two cooperatives in the municipalities of San Jose and Mamburao,” the DA said.
The department said that 40% of onion growers are not yet members of cooperatives, rendering them unable to avail of the government’s support services.
“Compounding the problem, the new entrants are still not familiar with good agricultural practices in onion production, harvesting, and post-harvest handling that affect the quality of onions in some areas, resulting in farmers burning damaged or unmarketable harvests, as seen on the news,” it added.
The DA said it signed an agreement with Royale Cold Storage in Cabuyao, Laguna, to accommodate the onion procured from partner cooperatives.
The cold storage facility has a total capacity of 15,552 pallets that can accommodate a maximum load of 1 metric ton (MT) per pallet.
“Our partner cooperatives have brought 16,000 bags to this facility to date. They are bringing more since this facility can accommodate more 153,000 MT,” the DA added.
The department said it is working with two onion cooperatives from Occidental Mindoro to meet with WalterMart to explore the possibility of supplying onions to the supermarket chain.
“We are also offering… to sell their onion produce (at) our Kadiwa market system space in Las Piñas, Parañaque, and other areas in the south of Metro Manila,” the DA said.
Two cold storage facilities worth P125 million each are also being developed as part of the Philippine Rural Development Project.
The facilities will be constructed in Magsaysay and San Jose in Occidental Mindoro, with a combined capacity of 100,000 bags or 2,800 MT. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson