On the latest importation of onion

“The Department of Agriculture chose to abandon the interest of farmers and consumers only to uphold its anti-people importation policy” — this was the reaction of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) on the latest onion importation order announced by the DA.

“DA officials and economic advisers who have prodded President and concurrent agriculture secretary Marcos Jr. to approve the importation of 21,000 metric tons of onion will be most accountable for its ill effects, especially on consumers and onion growers.” 

“Only big importers and traders stand to benefit from this latest importation. Farmers and especially consumers will be at the losing end of this devil-or-the-deep blue sea solution by the agriculture department.” 

“We have proved time and again that massive importation will not effectively and immediately lower the prices of agricultural products. We have proved that with the Rice Tariffication Law and the tariff reduction and voluminous importation of meat and livestock at the height of the ASF,” according to KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos. 

For his part, former DAR secretary and KMP chairperson emeritus Rafael Mariano said the DA’s permanent reliance on importation as the default solution to the food inflation problem further damages the local agriculture sector. “DA is burying alive the domestic agriculture especially small-scale farmers and food producers. Habang nananawagan ng pagpapalakas ng lokal na agrikultura at food self-sufficiency ang mga magsasaka, importasyon lang ang alam na gawin ng DA,” Mariano added. 

“Paano nangyari na noong 2021 hanggang early 2022 ay bagsak ang presyo ng sibuyas, nabubulok at itinatapon na dahil hindi maibenta. Pagkaupo ni Marcos Jr., biglang sumirit pataas ang presyo ng sibuyas. Nangibabaw ang kartel sa pagma-manipulate ng suplay at presyo,” Mariano said, adding that the unbridled rampant smuggling further exacerbates the situation. 

KMP said it will launch protests against the latest wave of importation initiated by the ‘Department of Angkat.’ 

The group said the country’s onion import dependency has increased over the past administrations. (Data below) 

2016-2019 (Duterte) 29.08%

2010-2015 (Aquino III) 8.62%

2004-2009 (Arroyo) 22.98%

1998-2003 (Estrada, Arroyo) 13.73%

KMP also noted that after the country imported more than double the volume of onions in 2020, the local production plummeted the following year in 2021. 

“Overall, decades of agricultural trade liberalization since the country’s entry into the WTO-Agreement on Agriculture did not lower the prices of goods nor improved the local production. It only tied our agriculture production and consumption to import dependency.”

From 2015 to 2016, the average annual consumption per person of onion is at 2.34 kgs and the consumption by the percentage of households is at 89.76 percent, or majority of households consuming onion as aromatics. 

By type, bulb onions comprise 79% of the total area or 14,453 hectares. Shallots take up 21% or 3,938 hectares. From 2011 to 2020, the average annual growth in production is 10.72% (128,837 MT to 229,539 MT) while the area planted had an average annual growth of 4.91% or 14,641 hectares to 18,391 hectares. The top onion-producing region is Central Luzon with 62.5% of total production. ###

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