Slammed for inaction on onion price hike, DA points to LGUs

A MEMBER of the Cebu City Council has criticized the Department of Agriculture (DA) for its unclear actions toward the high prices of onions in the market.

Councilor Pastor “Jun” Alcover Jr., chairman of the committee on agriculture, trade, commerce and entrepreneurship, urged the DA and Department of Trade and Industry to intensify its price monitoring and impose measures relating to the high cost of onions and other prime commodities in the city’s public markets.

In his privilege speech during the Council’s regular session on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, Alcover said he did not see any actions from the DA.

“Our President Bongbong Marcos is the current secretary of the Department of Agriculture, but until now, we have not yet seen the DA act on this problem,” Alcover said in Cebuano.

The councilor said prices of onions in supermarkets and public markets now exceed P500 per kilo.

Alcover added that he received information from a reliable source that prices of white onion will increase to P650 per kilo next month.

Suggested retail price

In an interview with SunStar Cebu Thursday, Dec. 29, DA Assistant Secretary for the Visayas Salvador Diputado said the DA has already released a suggested retail price (SRP) of P250 per kilo for the onions.

However, this cannot be strictly enforced due to the supply shortage of onions compared to the high demand due to the holiday season, he said.

Diputado said prices of onions are expected to decrease around the second week of January since this will be the beginning of the harvest season which will improve the supply.

“The problem, especially here in Cebu, is that we don’t have our own source of onions. All our onions are imported, either from outside the country or other provinces,” Diputado explained in Cebuano.

Once the supply returns to normal, it will now be the job of the local price coordinating councils (LPCC) of the local government units (LGUs) to implement and monitor adherence to the SRP.

Reactivate LPCCs

He urged LGUs to reactivate their LPCCs amid the increase in prices of basic goods such as onion bulb, potato and bell pepper, in the public markets.

He said if only the LPCCs were active, these would be able to monitor any big price increases and act on them immediately.

In Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama has already designated some personnel that will compose the LPCC, but the mayor has not yet called them to a meeting.

The prices of basic commodities in the Carbon Public Market have skyrocketed.

Onion bulbs now sell for P560 to P600 per kilo, from just P50 per kilo during the harvest season. The price of bell pepper has gone up to P360 per kilo this month from P90 in November, while potatoes now go for P160 per kilo from just P30 last August.

Diputado said Central Visayas is one of the areas in the country that has the highest food inflation since it has many urbanized cities.

Grow your own

Diputado also urged residents to plant their own vegetables and other produce by practicing backyard gardening in their homes.

“It’s not difficult to grow onions. We can just plant these in our backyard, and the Department of Agriculture is also very willing to help in this,” said Diputado.

He said the DA has been giving seeds and seedlings of different fruits and vegetables to LGUs and residents can avail of these by visiting their local agriculture office.

The regions with onion plantations are Regions 1 (Ilocos), 2 (Cagayan Valley) and 3 (Central Luzon) in Luzon and in Mindanao, he said. (IRT, PAC / TPT)