Agriculture chief greenlights importation of 35,000 metric tons of red onions from China

The Philippines will be importing 35,000 metric tons of red onions from China to bring down prices and provide ample supply for the next two months, the Agriculture Department’s chief said today.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a press conference that the supply of red onions, the variety preferred by Filipinos, has been low in recent months, and that the department had already issued an import clearance to deal with the shortage, GMA News reports.

“These red onions can only be brought in up until mid-February so that it will not be in competition with the main harvest time starting [in] March,” Dar said.

In the same press conference, Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan noted that Filipino farmers tend to harvest yellow onions in late January, and red ones in early March.

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Dar added that the shortage explains why the price of red onions currently sold at the market had increased some 43 percent, from PHP180 (US$3.5) per kilo to PHP250 (US$5) per kilo, since just last month, ABS-CBN News reports.

The agriculture chief said that besides the short-term importation of red onions, farmers needed to “use more technologies to increase production.” He added that the department aimed to distribute more aid to Filipino farmers in general to bolster productivity.

In November, the Agriculture Department said that it will be releasing a PHP3 billion (US$58.7 million) cash assistance fund that will help around 600,000 rice farmers severely affected by dwindling palay (unhusked rice) prices, after the government implemented the Rice Tariffication law in March.

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