Despondency over their huge losses in onion farming have reportedly driven five farmers in Bayambang, Pangasinan to commit suicide.
This was disclosed by Elvin Jerome Laceda, president of the Young Farmers Challenge Club of the Philippines, during an inquiry by the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture on the phenomenal skyrocketing prices of onions in the country.
Laceda told the panel chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar that the onion farmers who killed themselves all came from a barangay in Bayambang, Pangasinan.
He presented to the Senates a housewife identified only as Nanay Merle who testified that her husband killed himself last year after their onion plantation was attacked by army worms.
The woman said her husband hoped to recoup their losses amounting to millions of pesos, but failed to do so due to the importation of onions.
She also divulged they were also constrained to sell their harvest to traders at very low price.
Confronted by enormous financial problems, Nanay Merle said her husband decided to take his own life.
Laceda said he brought Nanay Merle to the Senate hearing as a testimonial on the onion farmers’ miseries amid the runaway prices of the spice.
Laceda voiced out the farmers’ demand for the traders to buy their onions at gainful prices to be able to sustain their occupation.
While onions were being sold at P700 a kilo in Metro Manila, Laceda related that their group procured onions in Pangasinan for only P125 to P250 a kilo.
Laceda said they sold the onions in Metro Manila at P350 a kilo which, according to him, is already a big help for the consumers.
Sen. Imee Marcos also told the hearing about reports that reached her office that there were also onion farmers from Nueva Ecija and Pampanga who committed suicide due to losses.
According to Marcos, this was the only time that the prices of onions in the country went on a “roller coaster” ride.
She expressed beliefs that minimal importation of onions, done at the proper time with the right projection, could have staved off the unusually high prices.
Marcos also deplored the “treachery and manipulation” done by those behind the spike in onion prices.
Romel Calingasan lamented they spent more than P200k per hectare for planting onions to no avail.
He said they sold the commodity for only P8 to P15 a kilo, only to learn that the market prices ranged from P600 to P700 in Metro Manila.