SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
25 January 2023 02:00:31 PM
The House Committee on Agriculture and Food chaired by Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga (1st District, Quezon) held a briefing with the Department of Agriculture (DA) Wednesday on the state of the country's onion industry. Enverga said the panel seeks for the government to be more responsive to the needs of the sector. He added that mechanisms should be put in place to make the country more prepared, stressing that timely response is important in agriculture. Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director Glenn Panganiban reported that onion production remained steady since 2016, and even continued to increase until last year. He agreed with lawmakers that there could be anomalies in the supply chain, noting that farmers confirmed, in a stakeholders’ consultation, that supply is available. Meanwhile, Panganiban presented the BPI’s initiatives to help address challenges in the onion industry. Among them are 1) strengthening cooperation with the Philippine Statistics Authority to harmonize onion data, 2) assisting farmers to sell direct to consumers through Kadiwa, 3) establishing new storage facilities, 4) collaborating with law enforcement and port authorities to curb smuggling and unscrupulous trading, and 5) provision of seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides to farmers. For her part, Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City) underscored that the BPI should report raids conducted to the Philippine Competition Commission, the agency that has jurisdiction over cartels. Quimbo said that the onion shortage is only at about seven percent, which makes skyrocketing prices questionable. Meanwhile, Panganiban mentioned that there is a P240-million provision in the 2023 national budget for cold storage facilities to help extend the life of local produce. He assured the DA would coordinate with its regional offices to work on providing a facility to each region or municipality.