Gov’t allows onion imports to stop ‘absurd increase’ in prices
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has authorized the importation of onions to ensure enough supply and avoid a repetition of the “absurd increase” in onion prices during the holiday season last year.
In a statement on Friday, the Bureau of Plant (BPI) said it began issuing sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) last month to procure 17,000 metric tons of red onions and 4,000 MT of yellow onions from China, India and the Netherlands.
“This intervention of the government is to guarantee an ample supply amidst the increasing demand by the forthcoming holiday season and to ensure the public that last year’s scenario on the absurd increase in price would not be repeated,” the BPI said.
Onion prices surged to P600 to P700 a kilo during the Christmas season last year.
According to the BPI, onions to be sourced abroad will serve as the country’s buffer ahead of the peak harvest of local produce between March and April next year.
Fresh onions must reach the archipelago on or before Dec. 31 this year to ensure it won’t coincide with the upcoming harvest season.
The bureau said it arrived at the importation volume based on the per capita consumption of the Philippines, which is pegged at 17,000 MT per month.
Separately, the DA extended the period for issuing the second tranche of SPSICs for importing 35,000 MT of frozen round scad (galunggong), bigeye scad, mackerel, bonito, and moonfish until Dec. 10.
Fish imports, too
In August, the DA announced another round of fish importation from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 as it projected a decline in fish production due to the temporary closure of major fishing grounds based on historical data.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources pegged the demand at 827,285 MT, while the supply was estimated at 769,446 MT for the October to December period.
As per the directive, all imported fish should arrive not later than Jan. 15, 2024. SPSICs are valid for 45 days and expire after the deadline.
The agency released the first tranche of import clearances from Oct. 1 to 30, while the second tranche was supposed to be given out from Nov. 6 to 30 but was subsequently adjusted to Dec. 10.
Based on the DA’s price monitoring as of Friday, local red onion is priced from P130 to P220 per kilogram against P280 during the same period last year. Imported red onion is not available.
Markets sold local white onion from P100 to P160 per kg, while imported white onion retailed from P80 to P160 per kg.
Milkfish (bangus) is priced from P140 to P250 per kg compared to P180 per kg last year. Tilapia is sold from P115 to P160 per kg against P140 per kg previously.
Local round scad retailed from P200 to P300 per kg, previously from P240 per kg. Imported round scad ranged from P180 to P260 per kg against last year’s P200 per kg.