Filipino wallets in hot oil as onion, garlic prices might go on the rise

·2 min read
A worker stands on top of piles of red onion sacks as he prepares to deliver the produce to a warehouse in metro Manila, Philippines July 4, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
A worker stands on top of piles of red onion sacks as he prepares to deliver the produce to a warehouse in metro Manila, Philippines July 4, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

The Department of Agriculture (DA) announced that production is low for onions, garlic, and salt and might not be sufficient to cater to domestic demand until the holidays.

Garlic and onions are constants in countless Filipino dishes. The country’s leading producer in garlic (Ilocos Region) fell short in production since mid-August.

"We are not sufficient at all pag-dating po sa garlic [when it comes to garlic]. We are dependent on importation," DA Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista said.

Onions, meanwhile, are expected to be scarce until November, with sufficiency levels reaching 0 percent last July across several regions. Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Assistant Director Ariel Bayot said that "We have no importation of yellow onions since January… The rest is local stocks."

He added, “While harvest [...] from April or March was computed to last only three to four months, that's why supply is zero.”

Last April, farmers’ group Anakpawis Party-list criticized the DA for “failure to implement decisive measures” leading to low farmgate prices and non-profitability of produce. Some farmers opted to throw their harvest because of this. The group associates the low prices to onion imports.

“Importation has always been a scourge to local industries because cheap imports pull down the value of our local products,” Anakpawis National Chairperson Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano said. “Similar to the devastating impacts of importation measures to rice farmers and fisherfolks, onion farmers are at the losing end courtesy of the government's commitment to trade liberalization.”

According to a report by INQUIRER.net, the supply of red onions is enough to reach the holidays. It is the supply of white onions that the country is experiencing a shortage of, with local onion farmers saying that they’ve run out of the crop since July.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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