DA chief holds off SRP for onions
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has deferred the implementation of the suggested retail price (SRP) for onions amid questions on the basis for the market price cap aimed at bringing down skyrocketing prices.
“For now, we will not announce an SRP for onions,” said Assistant Agriculture Secretary Rex Estoperez.
He said Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban on Monday ordered the deferral because of questions on the cost structure that served as the basis for SRP.
The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura criticized Panganiban’s order as “unfortunate and pathetic.”
“We find it strange and unfortunate for the DA to postpone the SRP,” said the lobby group’s executive director Jayson Cainglet. “Unless the real objective of those that refuse to sign the SRP is to keep retail prices of onions high.”
“Unless there are other schemes available… the SRP is our best bet, and it’s working, in fact… for the past four days,” he added.
As of Wednesday, the DA’s price monitoring showed local red and white onions being sold from P100 to P200 per kilogram, much higher than P80 per kg last year. Imported onions are currently unavailable in Metro Manila.
Had the DA issued the order, the SRP would have been at P150 per kg for red onions and P140 per kg for white onions, but the DA would also have to deal with the price impact on farmers.
Eric Alvarez, an official of a producers’ cooperative in Nueva Ecija, supported Panganiban’s decision to defer the issuance of an SRP.
“A lot has already been added to our expenses,” Alvarez said in Filipino. “Here in Nueva Ecija, most of the onions in storage facilities are owned by small farmers… Not all onions in storage are owned by traders.”
Estoperez also noted the difficulty of enforcing an SRP when farmers have already invested in farm inputs.