DA moves to make onion industry stronger

ONION farmers in the Philippines, long at the mercy of big smuggling cartels, may soon find more markets for their produce thanks to the Department of Agriculture’s efforts to make the onion industry in the Philippines more competitive.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol has announced a series of measures to strengthen and protect the local onion growing industry.

Among the steps include a commitment to provide government financing for a marketing agreement between local onion farmers and big supermarket and restaurant chains and a series of steps to improve the local farmers’ competitiveness.

In a meeting with officials of the National Association of Onion Farmers, Piñol assured onion farmers that the DA will implement a provision in the Food Safety Act of 2013 that requires DA inspection of all agricultural imports to ensure that local farmers are protected from illegal importations.

The agency will also monitor the operation of unscrupulous traders who dump excess onion imports into the local market during harvest time to drive the onion farming sector to bankruptcy so they could just make money from imports.

“What we want to do is to make you (onion farmers) more competitive so you can produce more even at current operating costs so you can earn more,” Secretary Piñol said.

 

Buy Direct

To address the immediate need of local onion farmers to sell their produce, Piñol met with the representatives of big supermarket and restaurant chains like SM, Robinsons, Shakey’s, Jolibee, Shopwise, Savemore and Mindanao-based NCCC malls to finalize an agreement to buy direct from local onion farmers as arranged with the help of Presidential Adviser for Economic Enterprise Joey Concepcion.

Piñol said the DA is ready to provide financing for the onion farmers so they can supply the supermarket and restaurant chains on credit. 

He instructed DA Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña  to work with the onion farmers’ group to determine how much market financing is needed to implement the onion supply agreement with the big supermarket and restaurant chains.

The DA Secretary also instructed Laviña to assist the onion farmers in improving their marketing techniques for their produce, including the proper labeling for local produce to instill consumer loyalty and pride.

Piñol also said the DA will assist local onion farmers become more competitive by helping them adopt new farming technologies and techniques to lower production costs and increase farm yields. 

He cited an offer of VietGrow, one of Vietnam’s biggest vegetable seeds producer and fertilizer manufacturer, to set up demonstration farms in North Cotabato, Southern Leyte, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Ilocos Norte and Mindoro.

Laviña said the DA will work with the local onion farmers to draw up a roadmap for the development of the onion industry from farming to post harvest production and marketing to improve their incomes and make them more competitive against imported onion.

“We will make sure that the pagbabago (change) that President Rodrigo Duterte promised our people will become a reality for all our farmers,” Laviña said.

The DA will also  provide post-harvest facilities that local onion farmers need to reduce wastage in their farm yields, including the construction of cold storage facilities in the onion belt in Central and Northern Luzon and in Mindanao for onion bulbs for planting and produce for longer storage. (J. Veloso)

 

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