LGUs could be deputized to monitor onions in cold storage

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday that it plans to ask local government units (LGUs) to monitor onion inventories held in cold storage.

“We will coordinate with the Metro Manila Mayors League because as of now, we don’t have police power, except for the safety of cold storage facilities. For the police power (to) compel traders to release the onions, we have to coordinate,” DA Deputy Spokesman Rex C. Estoperez said in briefing.

“Maybe the LGUs (can help) on the business permit side or maybe in strengthening our implementation to help us stabilize prices by effecting the release of stocks from cold storage,” he added.

As of April 20, there were 98,393.86 metric tons (MT) of domestically-grown red onion and 12, 943.35 MT of domestic yellow onion in cold storage, according to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

The main cold storage facilities are located in the Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), the Western Visayas, and the National Capital Region.

No inventories of red and yellow onions were reported in Cagayan Valley, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), the Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and the Davao Region.

Mr. Estoperez said the plan to implement a suggested retail price for onions has not been completed pending a study on the cost structure of onion growing and the establishment of an implementation scheme with LGUs.

Citing BPI monthly consumption data, Mr. Estoperez said imports of about 22,000 MT are expected to be sufficient to stabilize prices.

“We are consulting with the institutional buyers on white onion… for now, we (have no) import allocation for white and red onion,” he said.

He said the import scheme could be executed on a government-to-government basis. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera