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Monday, May 20, 2024

PH running short of garlic, onions — DA

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After the sugar importation mess, the Department of Agriculture (DA) hinted that there is nothing nice about the supply of spices, particularly onions and garlic, as well as salt.

“We are not sufficient at all when it comes to garlic. We are dependent on importation,” said Kristine Evangelista, Assistant Secretary of the DA.

“The harvest in April was computed to last only three to four months that is the supply of yellow onions is zero or scarce,” said Ariel Ba yot, assistant director of the Bureau of Plant Industry.

GARLIC IN SHORT SUPPLY, TOO. After admitting there is a supply shortage in yellow onions and salt, the Department of Agriculture said the country is short of about 63,000 metric tons of garlic. Norman Cruz

The DA said there is a deficit of about 63,000 metric tons for garlic.

The country’s total garlic supply for 2022 was pegged at 82,950 metric tons (mts.), while total demand for the commodity was at 146,850 mts.

Government data showed that the local production of garlic for this year was at 4,817 mts. The country imports at least 78,132 mts. of garlic.

Senator Imee Marcos earlier urged the DA to conduct an inventory of white onions as she promised to raise funds for cold storage facilities in order to preserve the produce of local farmers.

Marcos said that from P40 per kilo, white onions now sell up to P400 per kilo to popular fast food chains by Divisoria-based onion traders.

She advised the DA to trace the traders who bought white onions from local farmers and find out if they (traders) are hoarding the crop in cold storage facilities.

“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,” the Marcos said.

She said the national budget should provide more cold storage facilities for local farmers, adding that smugglers of imported white onions are now taking advantage of the situation by selling the commodity 10 times the usual price to the restaurant industry.

The DA has started listing the names of traders as furnished by farmers in major onion-growing provinces like Nueva Ecija and Mindoro, but Marcos pressed for the inclusion of farmers in the Visayas and Mindanao to get a better grasp of the situation.

Marcos urged the government to link more local farmers with the restaurant industry, ahead of the next major harvest in April while waiting for the results of the inventory.

“We can shut out smugglers from the supply chain through contract-growing, wherein industrial buyers assure local growers of income from their upcoming harvests and, in turn, are assured supply of (the) staple ingredient in their food products,” she said.

Last month, local onion producers admitted that their stock of white onions has been depleted.

Marcos expressed concern that low harvests of white onions in November will fall short of higher demand when Christmas comes around.

“Wet weather conditions will aggravate the situation if these cause white onions to sprout or rot in storage,” she pointed out.

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