Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

Agri dep’t allots P94M to boost onion production

Author: DA Press Office | 4 March 2022

The Department of Agriculture (DA) under its High-Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) is allotting this year an additional P94.6 million (M) to further prop up onion production.

The amount will be mainly used to procure planting materials of red and yellow onion varieties, as well as organic and inorganic fertilizers, which will be distributed to major onion-growing provinces.

This was the result of a consultation chaired by Agriculture Secretary William Dar with onion farmer-leaders from Nueva Ecija and Mindoro.

Among the major concerns raised by the farmer-leaders are the decreasing prices of local onions due to the continued influx of imported ones, which are sold cheaper. Farmgate price of onions dipped by P6 per kilo in 2021.

They also asked the DA for assistance in marketing their produce and establishment post-harvest and storage facilities. To which Secretary Dar responded favorably, committing to regulate the entry of imports and the establishment of more cold storage facilities in strategic areas to prolong the shelf life of local harvest.

“We have been addressing the issue of space and storage since 2018 to allow our farmers to temporarily tuck away their surplus. In fact, we have finished the construction of three warehouses since then, valued at P20M each, thus totaling P60M,” Secretary Dar said.

He added that five more facilities are under construction, including a state-of-the-art center in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, valued at P40M, funded under the DA’s Farm and Fishery Consolidation and Clustering (F2C2) Program.

He said the DA’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) will continue to assist and link farmers direct to institutional buyers and markets, and to negotiate with the Food Terminal Incorporated for a possible marketing and storage agreement, that will allow onion farmers’ groups to use available space at FTI in Taguig as drop-off point while waiting for buyers.

To ease production and post-production activities, a total of P31.97M has been allocated for the mechanization of the industry this year. The fund will cover the acquisition of hauling trucks, tractors, hand tractors, seeders, and multicultivators, among others.

Another P3.7M will go to the construction of irrigation systems in different onion-producing onion areas.

During the dialogue, Secretary Dar underscored that the DA is bent on helping farmers increase their productivity and incomes.

Onion production declined by 11,000 metric tons (MT) last year, from its 2020 level.

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, for the third quarter of 2021, Ilocos Region recorded the highest production with 8.04 MT, sharing 61.2 percent of the total production this quarter. This was followed by SOCCSKSARGEN at 18.3 percent and Cagayan Valley with 13.7 percent share.

“We need to further prop up production, not only for onions and other high-value crops, but for the entire agriculture sector, and we need additional budget to do that“ Secretary Dar said.

He added that the Department will have to make efficient use of the P85.5-billion budget for this year to make the sector competitive through the application of science-based technologies and innovations that will help farmers improve their productivity and increase their incomes.

A portion of the HVCDP fund will be used to enhance capacity of growers through training and education under the DA’s Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), and applied research courtesy of the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).

“Our end goal is make you a stronger sector so you can compete globally. Dapat kaya natin makipagtunggali sa mga magsasaka sa ibang parte ng mundo,” he added.

He directed the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to manage efficiently the issuance of import permits, ensuring that imports must not come in during harvest, so as not to depress farmgate and retail prices of onions.

He also asked BPI to work closely with the economic intelligence team of DA, led by Assistant Secretary Federico Laciste, Jr., to prevent and confiscate entry of smuggled onions.

“You have to intensify your anti-smuggling campaigns and be more vigilant to protect our farmers,” Secretary Dar urged BPI Director George Culaste.

In January, the DA thwarted the entry of smuggled red onions valued at P101M.

The agri chief added that since January no shipments of imported onions have passed through the country’s entry ports and warned that “all unused import clearances should be canceled.” ### (Adora Rodriguez, DA-AFID)

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