DA seeks help of local gov’ts to monitor cold storage facilities
Suspecting hoarding as one of the culprits behind the spike in onion prices, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking the assistance of local governments to monitor cold storage facilities in their respective areas.
“It seems [there is hoarding] because if there’s a stock in the cold storage facilities and the prices are increasing, they are manipulating the release of the stocks and the price,” said Agriculture Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez in an interview on Tuesday.
Estoperez, also the agency’s deputy spokesperson, cited the need to collaborate with local governments, specifically the mayors’ league or the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, to make sure the edible bulbs are sold at reasonable prices.
“Perhaps what we need to do is to strengthen the police power of the government on that,” Estoperez said.
“As of now, we don’t have the police power except for ensuring the safety of cold storage,” he said.
“But police power and so far as compelling the traders to release the onions [we don’t have that] … perhaps local governments on the business permits or maybe strengthening the implementation among local governments so that it can help us in stabilizing the prices by releasing the onions in cold storage facilities purchased at lower prices,” he added.
The DA is also considering the importation of 22,000 metric tons (MT) of red and white onions via the government to government scheme to bring down onion prices.
The volume, said Estoperez, is equivalent to the country’s one-month onion consumption.
The DA will also take into consideration various factors such as cost structure, timing and where the bulbs will be stored to find the balance between price stability and livelihood of local producers.
The details of the proposed importation will be finalized in the succeeding meetings with industry stakeholders.
Estoperez said they were expecting prices to decrease to P70 to P80 per kilogram.
In Metro Manila, local red onions were being sold from P160 to P200 per kilogram as of Tuesday against P80 per kg a year ago, based on the DA’s price monitoring.
Local white onions retail from P150 to P200 per kg from P75 per kg.INQ