The Department of Agriculture (DA) in the Philippines has taken a significant step towards supporting local farmers and enhancing the onion industry. An announcement by the DA revealed plans to construct six cold storage facilities across four onion-producing regions. These facilities aim to address the challenges faced by farmers during peak harvest seasons and reduce the country’s reliance on onion imports.
These facilities will each have a capacity of 20,000 bags, costing up to ₱40 million, and will be built in the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Mimaropa regions.
The shortage of onions in the country that started in the latter part of 2022 led its price to skyrocket, making it a “hot commodity” as a kilo costs more than meat.
At the beginning of 2023, President Marcos Jr. highlighted the issue of insufficient cold chain facilities, which has a direct impact on the supply and prices of onions. He also emphasized the agricultural industry’s urgent requirement for additional cold storage facilities to maintain and preserve agricultural products effectively — stating, “We need more cold storage, we need a better, stronger cold chain para ma-maintain naman natin, ma-preserve naman natin ‘yung agricultural products.”
As the current Department of Agriculture Chief, the President also repeatedly stressed the importance of supporting farmers and discouraging long-term reliance on imports. He believes that focusing on assisting onion growers and promoting local production is essential to avoid the inflationary effects of relying on foreign supplies.
“We have to go back to the onion growers and help them, so that we can have production, we don’t need to import. We became so used to importation… When we take supplies from abroad, its inflationary forces are also being brought to the Philippines,” PBBM stated.
In line with this, KADIWA stores will also be put up in more locations across the country to make onions and other essential commodities more accessible at a reasonable price.
Furthermore, the government is looking at the implementation of a suggested retail price or SRP for onions — according to a ranking official of the Department of Agriculture. This move comes as the agency investigates potential hoarding of onions in the market.
Asst. Secretary Kristine Evangelista revealed in an interview that the DA would convene a meeting with stakeholders, primarily the farmers’ group; Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), addressing the concerns surrounding the supply and pricing of onions.