Onion supply ‘adequate’ despite hoarders: Department of Agriculture

BPI director Glenn Panganiban told lawmakers that for red onions, the country has a supply enough for 162 days or more than five months.

Julie M. Aurelio

Julie M. Aurelio

Philippine Daily Inquirer


In this photo taken in January, freshly harvested onions are classified and sorted by farmers in Bayambang, Pangasinan, before these are bagged and taken to local markets and warehouses. PHOTO: PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

August 10, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will have a “more than ample” supply of red onions for more than five months or until mid-December, with prices to remain steady at a maximum of P170 per kilo.

An official of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) gave this assurance to skeptical members of the House agriculture and food committee in a hearing on Wednesday.

BPI director Glenn Panganiban told lawmakers that for red onions, the country has a supply enough for 162 days or more than five months.

“The current supply for red onions, as of July 14, is for 162 days. So we have enough until December. Dec. 23 to be exact… It’s more than ample; it’s more than enough,” Panganiban said.

He was responding to House natural resources panel chair Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., a member of the House agriculture panel led by Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga.

Wednesday’s hearing was the ninth in a series of hearings held by the House agriculture panel, which is investigating the expensive cost of onions in late 2022 that reached as high as P700 a kilo.

The DA official said that the country is expecting the arrival of 4,000 metric tons of white onions for the month of August, and that current supplies of yellow onions are enough for at least two months with 25,000 MT more in November.

For her part, House Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Arlene Brosas asked why imported onions usually come from China and not other countries.

Bring down prices
Henrick Exconde of the BPI’s National Plant Quarantine Services said this is because China was the nearest country that is able to supply within the January deadline that the BPI set for red onions.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Martin Romualdez ordered a renewed campaign to bring down the prices of onion amid reports that hoarders are active once more in manipulating onion prices.

In a statement, Romualdez cited data from the House agriculture panel, which showed that onion prices ranged from P90 to P180 in recent days.

“Hoarders and price manipulators are starting to be active once more. We will nip this problem in the bud. We will not allow onion prices to hit price levels that are beyond the reach of ordinary Filipinos,” he said.

The Speaker asked officials of the BPI to report to his office so they can explain to lawmakers why hoarders are able to manipulate the price of onions. Romualdez said onion farmers had already sold their harvest to wholesalers.

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