Onions are smuggled into country, too

February 10, 2014 at 7:05 am Leave a comment

By Brando Cortez

QUEZON CITY-Onion farmers are in tears over fear that their soon to be harvested crop will not fetch a profitable price due to the proliferation of smuggled white onions.

Abono Party-list Chairman Rosendo So said the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) price watch monitor for onions indicated a price drop from 20 pesos per kilo to 14 pesos per kilo this January.

He said the farmgate price of onions should be at around P40 per kilo for the farmer to have a decent profit. Any price lower than P40 per kilo is a disincentive for farmers to continue planting.

“Dapat, more or less, nasa P40 per kilo para kumita iyong magsasaka,” So said. “Eh kung bumagsak iyan sa P14 per kilo tapos bumagsak pa sa P8 per kilo iyan, wala na, hindi na sila magtatanim.”

He said data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) shows that the national onion production from 2007 to 2011 has been falling by 2.96% annually.

For 2012 alone, there was a steep 12% drop in local production.

So said a major factor in the decline in onion production is the widespread presence of imported white onions in the local markets including supermarkets.

He said the harvest season for onions has started but there are no buyers because the warehouses of traders are filled with imported onions.

Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Ilocos Norte are known onion producing provinces.

So said from October to December of 2013, 400,000 bags of white onions from New Zealand and the Netherlands entered the country.

He said the Department of Agriculture allowed the entry of just 100,000 bags of onions as covered by importation permits.

So said one out of five onions illegally entered the country.

“More or less, nasa 100,000 bags lang dapat import. Maybe they reused permits,” So said. “Same na ginagawa sa reuse ng import permit sa rice.”

So also warned that smuggled onions may not be fit for human consumption considering the duration of the crops travel time from other countries.

He said chemicals may have been used on the smuggled onions to keep them looked fresh and these same onions did not pass through government food safety inspection.

“How come they can still look fresh after so much travel and storage time, how much pesticides and chemical inputs were used?” he said. “This is also a public health concern.”

Entry filed under: News.

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