THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will provide a P200 million loan to onion farmers’ associations to fund a stockpiling scheme for their produce which will allow them to wait out low-price periods, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said.
Stockpiled onions “will be kept in reefer vans” while awaiting release to the market, Mr. Piñol said in a social media post over the weekend.
He said farmers’ groups will be validated prior to the supply of refrigerated vans,” Mr. Piñol added.
The DA has banned imports of bulb onions, pending the conclusion of an investigation into alleged cartels manipulating the price of domestic onions.
Mr. Piñol said that the moratorium on the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) permits for onion imports will run until the investigation is completed.
“Earlier, the DA asked the Philippine Competition Commission and the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate reports that at least four cold storage facilities have been leased in advance by traders and closed to force farmers to sell at low prices,” Mr. Piñol said.
Mr. Piñol said that DA has also already ordered its Field Operations office to source reefer vans to be used as temporary storage facilities by the farmers.
“The traders are expected to consolidate local production as they await the time when they are allowed to import,” Mr. Piñol has said.
“With the farmers’ produce bought at very low prices cornered and consolidated, traders cab control the pricing of onion and generate huge profits,” according to Mr. Piñol. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio