AGRICULTURAL groups urged authorities to scrutinize the cold storage facilities of traders when conducting inspections amid a report of red onion hoarding before the Christmas season.
Local producers said they are baffled that the retail price of red onions is increasing despite an abundant harvest.
“We have enough stocks of red onions in the cold storage facilities. Traders are controlling the release of red onions because of the anticipated high demand in December for the Christmas and New Year celebrations,” said Ronnie Ringor, an onion farmer from Pangasinan.
Based on the daily monitoring of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday, the retail price of red onions ranges from P110 to P170 per kilo.
“The traders are waiting for the retail price to further go up before they release the supply in the market,” Ringor said.
Ringor urged the government to inspect cold storage facilities in Pangasinan, Tarlac and Manila.
“Authorities should at least conduct random checking on the cold storage facilities to determine the actual volume of red onions,” he said.
Ringor added that the onion planting season starts in September until December and the harvest season begins last week of January until April of each year, noting that only 10 percent of the yield were white onions.
White onions were currently unavailable in the wet market while some supermarkets were selling the product at P400 to P450 per kilo.
Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng mga Magsisibuyas ng Nueva Ecija General Manager Arnel Llamas said that the Bureau of Plant Industry assured two weeks ago that there is a stable supply of red onions until the end of the year.
Former Agriculture secretary and Federation of Free Farmers Board Chairman Leonardo Montemayor said that the inspection of cold storage facilities will determine the country's actual stocks of red onions.
“There may be potential hoarding or reduced harvest or a combination of both. So, there is no harm in checking,” Montemayor told The Manila Times.
“We support the effort to inspect cold storage facilities. Inspecting cold storage facilities to determine if there is hoarding of onions or even meat products must be done,” Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. President Danilo Fausto told The Manila Times in a text message.
Meanwhile, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura Executive Director Jayson Cainglet said Department of Agriculture officials assured that the inventory of white onions is being done.
“We're now meeting with the DA regularly and the end users of different commodities to determine the actual statistics in the supply, stocks, demand and consumption,” Cainglet said.
He added that the importers of onions were also the traders in the local market, resulting in the monopoly of the product.
“The Senate has long investigated this matter, personalities have been named, and the Senate has issued its recommendation on this,” Cainglet said.
AGRI party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee said that it should be a normal practice of concerned government agencies to inspect cold storage facilities.
“This should be an automatic practice and a to-list of the authorities,” Lee told The Manila Times, adding that hoarders should be prosecuted, including the cold storage operators.
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