THE ONION shortage has been blamed on the failure of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to adequately project supply and demand for the commodity, resulting in a delay in turning to imports.

Danilo V. Fausto, president of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI), told reporters recently: “We failed to import, so that is why we are short of supply. Naturally, there was a transfer of leadership so maybe they did not notice that.”

Mr. Fausto said that during holidays, demand spikes for many commodities, which should have been anticipated and planned for.

“During Christmas season the demand doubles, sometimes triples because of… celebrations and parties left and right. That’s the time that you have to really prepare for, and you prepare for it for a year,” he said.

Mr. Fausto said that this year, the shortage is estimated at about 40,000 to 50,000 metric tons. He added imports should have ordered in July and August to meet current demand.

“We did not import. Naturally, the supply is low and that is why the prices go up. There is no such thing as hoarding of onions,” he said.

Mr. Fausto added that onions tend have a short shelf life. “if you keep onions in cold storage for long, you cannot sell it, simply because of the nature of the product.”

The DA has cited hoarding as a possible cause for high prices.

Mr. Fausto also warned that “farmers are now planting onions because of the price, and it will take three months to harvest.”

He expects a bumper harvest by April, which the government must prepare for with more cold storage.

“If the government will not put up (cold storage), by April we will be throwing onions away,” Mr. Fausto said. — Ashley Erika O. Jose