House takes up 2 bills proposing onion research center
MANILA, Philippines—Two bills proposing to establish an onion research institute were discussed in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (Feb. 1) following soaring onion prices.
Onion prices have been rising since the latter half of 2022, at one point reaching around P700 per kilo.
READ: Inexplicable price hikes, supply confusion: After onion, garlic may be next
Nueva Ecija Rep. Mikaela Angela B. Suansing first filed House Bill No. 1379 way back July 6, 2022 but spikes in onion prices prompted the Committee on Agriculture and Food to discuss the bill on Wednesday.
“There is a need to invest in our country’s onion industry, as evidenced by our erratic and declining onion self-sufficiency,” said Suansing.
She said the decline in onion production started in 2011 but she did not specify in her presentation the source of her information.
The government, however, recently authorized the importation of 1,600 metric tons of onion to ease local prices.
READ: First shipment of 1,200 MT imported onions now in PH
HB 1379 proposes the institute to “conduct all kinds of research work for the onion industry, aiming to discover and introduce processes that will improve productivity with such efficiency in all aspects of production.”
According to Suansing, funding for her proposed center would come from the General Appropriations Act.
The second proposal, House Bill No. 3110, authored by Nueva Ecija Rep. Rosanna Vergara (third district) has a similar proposal but designates Bongabon town in her province as the “Onion Capital of the Philippines.”
The bills received the support of the Department of Agriculture’s High-Value Crops Development Program.
The mayor of Bongabon, Ricardo Padilla, also spoke in the hearing, thanking the legislators for their effort to boost onion production. On top of research, he also suggested other interventions to deal with the onion crisis.
“Bakit hindi po tayo mag-isip, kung sakasakaling, gobyerno na po ang bibili ng sibuyas ng mga farmer natin, at sila na rin ang mag didistribute sa merkado, para maiwasan po yang mga smuggling, kung kailangan po talaga, yung tinatawag natin na importation,” said Padilla.
(Maybe we can think, just in case, the government can just buy onions from the farmers and distribute it to the market to avoid smuggling and when needed, importation).
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