Bureau of Plant Industry chief relieved over garlic price hike fiasco | Inquirer News

Bureau of Plant Industry chief relieved over garlic price hike fiasco

MANILA, Philippines—Bureau of Plant Industry chief Clarito Barron has been transferred to a different office in the Department of Agriculture after agri-business groups called for his resignation over the spike in garlic prices.

DA spokesperson Emerson U. Palad said in an interview that Barron has been ordered to report to the department’s field operations office.

Palad, also the agriculture undersecretary, said the DA’s top brass has agreed that he, as chief of field operations, needed help in fulfilling some of his responsibilities.


“(Barron will be assisting) me in seed banking, in the production of palay and corn seeds as well as of other crops,” he said. “Considering his expertise, Barron’s transfer will be very helpful in our efforts to increase agricultural output.”


Palad was referring to one of the DA’s main thrusts as international policy makers push for intensified efforts toward ensuring food security and as the Philippines braces for the threat of a prolonged dry spell.

DA Assistant Secretary Paz Benavidez, who is in charge of regulatory matters at the DA, has been named officer in charge of the BPI.

Asked whether Barron’s transfer from the BPI was final and whether a permanent replacement would be announced, Palad said on Thursday that he did not have an answer yet.

Last week, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura said Barron should resign for allowing the importation of garlic during the harvest season earlier this year.

In an interview last Friday, Barron said the BPI merely issued import permits for garlic, adding that the volume and schedule of arrivals for shipments were determined by the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT).

“The NGAT consists of farmer associations and cooperatives, traders, local government units and other stakeholders,” he explained.


“They arrive at a resolution on how much to import and the timing for this, which goes through the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) for evaluation,” Barron said.

The BPI chief added that the PCAF forwarded its recommendation to the Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Secretary (Osec) for concurrence.

“The Osec then sends an order to the BPI on what to do,” Barron said. “I merely issue the permits, it’s unfair to say that I made these decisions on my own.”

He said that based on NGAT discussions, they decided that the most recent imports should arrive not later than the end of April, because the local garlic harvested in February and March would be ready for marketing by May.


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Garlic imports timed with harvests

TAGS: Emerson U. Palad, Garlic, News, relief

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