Saturday| July 15, 2017
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is allocating P200 million from its proposed P213 billion budget next year to boost the production garlic and onion as part of efforts to address price-manipulating cartels.
"Nag-propose kami ng P200 million for onion and garlic development program from the 2018 budget, sapagkat ang target namin over the next five years is to produce 50 percent of the national requirements for garlic and 80 percent of the national requirements for onion," Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a press conference in Quezon City.
Piñol made the statement amid the issue of skyrocketing prices of garlic in the market - which reportedly reached P200 to P300 per kilo - allegedly caused by cartels, who intentionally reduce the amount of their garlic imports to create a shortage of supply thus the increase in prices.
The government must help local farmers in producing more to counter the alleged price manipulation practices of some garlic importers, the agriculture chief said.
Garlic production amounts to only 7,468 metric tons, the cabinet official noted.
"Ibig sabihin we hardly actually scratch the bottom. That's less than 7 percent of the consumption requirement. The government needs to produce more. How can we stabilize the price if we have only 7 percent? " Piñol said.
The proposed P200 million to developed the garlic and onion sector will cover the support to traditional production areas and the development of new areas in other parts of the country.
The budget will also be used to build cold storage facilities for garlic and onion.
"Kulang yung cold storage sa buong Pilipinas, and the government has failed to invest on these in the past. Ngayon, pag wala kang cold storage ang sibuyas at bawang patay ka sapagkat seasonal 'yung production ng bawang tsaka sibuyas," Piñol noted.
"Halimbawa, ang harvest ng sibuyas mag-start ng January, kaya lang once a year lang pwede mag-harvest ang ating mga farmers. So kapag wala kang cold storage talagang limitado ang iyong production kasi hindi pwede magtanim, mag-produce more than you could store kasi mabubulok," he added.
Piñol claimed that cartels are leasing cold storage facilities to deprive local farmers the opportunity of storing harvest as part of the cartel activity.
"'Yung mga ordinaryong farmer walang mapaglagyan ng kanilang mga produkto. That way they are a controlling the supply and prices," he said.
"Kaya kailangan mag-tayo ng cold storage facilities kasi magiging useless din ang ating efforts," he added.
Garlic and onion farmers will have access to the loan program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, which offers a maximum of P25,000 without any collateral and carry a 6 percent annual interest, the cabinet official noted.