Imee Marcos presses Bongbong-led DA to inventory local white onions

A worker hauls a rack full of sacks of white onions to be delivered to a wet market in Metro Manila, Philippines July 4, 2016. Sen. Imee Marcos is urging the government to conduct a full inventory of the local white onion supply. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)
A worker hauls a rack full of sacks of white onions to be delivered to a wet market in Metro Manila, Philippines July 4, 2016. Sen. Imee Marcos is urging the government to conduct a full inventory of the local white onion supply. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)

Senator Imee Marcos has called for the government to make a comprehensive inventory of local white onions to find out if traders are hoarding the crop.

This is after the Department of Agriculture (DA), which is headed by the senator’s brother President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., confirmed the lack of supply of white onions in the market on Wednesday (Aug 24).

In a statement on Sunday (Aug 28), Sen. Marcos said that a comprehensive inventory would help the government “arrive at a well-calibrated importation policy.”

“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,” Marcos said.

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

The senator further claimed that smugglers of imported white onions are taking advantage of the current shortage by selling to the restaurant industry at 10 times higher than the original price.

Marcos also said that popular fast food chains are complaining that white onions are now being sold to them at P400 pesos per kilo when they used to buy the crops at P40 per kilo.

The DA has earlier confirmed the shortage of white onions in the market. However, they said that they are already taking action on the matter including listing the names of traders who bought from farmers in major onion-growing provinces like Nueva Ecija and Mindoro.

"Yung sa white onions, wala na talagang supply. Tiningnan natin 'yung inventory at wala na tayong supply ng white onion. Kaya kahit sa mga palengke, kahit dito mismo sa bagsakan e walang white onion, siyempre po walang makakarating lalo na sa palengke," DA Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista said.

(There really is no supply of white onions now. We’ve already looked at the inventory and there is no more white onion supply. Even in wet markets and in warehouses, there’s no supply.)

‘Direct farmers to buyers’

Meanwhile, the DA said that the white onion shortage is an "opportunity" for farmers to partner directly with buyers, instead of coursing through traders.

“A series of consultations and market linkage activities have resulted in the market entry of farmer cooperatives and fast food chains that agreed to buy directly from farmers,” the agriculture department said.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings. The views expressed are her own.

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