Imee calls for comprehensive inventory of local white onions

Imee calls for comprehensive inventory of local white onions

By Liza Soriano

MANILA — In order to assess the degree of a shortfall brought on by last summer’s scant harvest, Senator Imee Marcos has requested that the government conduct a thorough inventory of regional white onions.

“Trace the traders who bought white onions from local farmers and find out if they are hoarding the crop in cold storage,” Marcos urged.

“Without a comprehensive inventory, we cannot arrive at a well-calibrated importation policy that answers consumer demand but also relieves our local growers from low farmgate prices,” the senator emphasized.

Marcos warned that smugglers of imported white onions are now taking advantage of the situation by selling to the restaurant industry at 10 times the usual price.

“Popular fast-food chains are complaining that what they used to buy at 40 pesos per kilo are now being sold to them at 400 by Divisoria-based traders,” Marcos said.

Marcos pushed for the inclusion of farmers in the Visayas and Mindanao. The Department of Agriculture has begun listing the names of traders obtained from farmers in significant onion-growing areas like Nueva Ecija and Mindoro.

Marcos asked the government to connect more local farmers with the restaurant sector even before the inventory’s results were in, in order to prepare for the next significant harvest in April.

“We can shut out smugglers from the supply chain through contract-growing, wherein industrial buyers assure local growers of income from their upcoming harvests and, in turn, are assured supply of a staple ingredient in their food products,” she explained.

Marcos expressed worry that smaller harvests of white onions in November will fall short of higher demand when Christmas comes around.

“Wet weather conditions will aggravate the situation if these cause white onions to sprout or rot in storage,” she pointed out.

“Next year’s national budget should provide more cold storage facilities for our local farmers. For now, an inventory and contract-growing must be done as soon as possible,” Marcos said. (ai/mtvn)

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