Onion prices on the rise again, imports eyed
The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) is exploring ways to counter the rising retail prices of onion in the markets, including importation.
Jose Diego Roxas, spokesperson for the BPI, told the Inquirer in a text message that the agency is studying this option to alleviate the impact of high onion prices on Filipino consumers.“It is only an option at the moment, there is no decision yet to do so,” said Roxas, officer in charge of BPI’s Information and Computer Section.
In an earlier interview, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista pointed out the significance of a calibrated importation to find the balance between stable supply and selling prices.
“The timing is very important so it has to be calibrated,” Evangelista told reporters, adding that any planned importation should not affect the livelihood of farmers.
Various factors have to be taken into account before deciding whether or not to import onions such as the commodity’s shelf life, available supply and demand for the bulbs.
She added, “Because, of course, oversupply will also affect onion prices, especially the local ones.”
Local red and onions in Metro Manila are sold from P150 to P200 per kilogram as of Friday, based on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) price monitoring.Last year, locally produced red and white onions retailed for P80 per kg and P70 per kg, respectively.
Imported red and white onions are not available as of this writing. But in the previous year, imported red and white onions were sold for P70 per kg and P80 per kg.
Should not exceed P200/kg Evangelista cited data in saying that the farm-gate price of onions has increased, ranging from P100 to P120 per kg. Farm-gate price refers to the selling price between farmers and traders, with the latter largely influencing the pricing.
“We will continue to talk to our farmers and find out … they are earning well because of favorable farm-gate [prices],” she said.
“But we will see how we can have certain interventions also in terms of logistics so that market vendors can produce the products from farmers at lower prices,” she added.
Amid higher prices, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) said retail prices of onions should not exceed P200 per kg.
Sinag executive director Jayson Cainglet said farmers managed to sell their produce from P50 to P100 per kg. On the other hand, the landed cost, or the cost associated with shipping a product, hovers between P25 and P40 per kg.
“At no point must retail prices exceed P200 per kilo,” Cainglet said. “By June, all onions in the market would be coming from traders/cold storage owners and importers.”
“Stocks of white onions, from our reports from the field, will last until August-September,” he added.
On the planned importation, Cainglet said the DA must have initiated any plans for importation at any time soon. The group earlier proposed to the BPI the procurement of 7,500 MT of white onions but to no avail.