By Ashley Erika O. Jose
THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) said it is assessing the state of the onion inventory ahead of a decision to import the commodity, which has seen a spike in prices.
“We will decide next week whether we need to import onions and other agricultural produce,” Rex C. Estoperez, DA deputy spokesperson, told BusinessWorld by phone Sunday.
In October, the DA set a suggested retail price of P170 per kilogram for red onion in the National Capital Region (NCR), Mr. Estoperez said this month prices of red onion sold in wet markets averaged P280 per kilo.
“Our projection of course is if more supply will come in, then the price will go down. Supposedly, we are anticipating more supply to come in by the last week of December,” Mr. Estoperez told reporters Friday.
Mr. Estoperez said that based on Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) projections, the current supply of onions can meet the holiday demand.
“Based on BPI’s inventory, we have at least 10,000 metric tons of onion in the markets. This is the latest inventory. The BPI said this is enough until the holiday season, but demand usually rises this month,” Mr. Estoperez said Friday.
Meanwhile, Mr. Estoperez said that the DA will clamp down on smuggling of agricultural products.
In a statement Friday, the DA said the Bureau of Customs (BoC) seized smuggled white and red onion mislabeled as frozen lobster balls and crab sticks. The combined value of seized agricultural products was estimated at P20.19 million.
“The department will intensify its campaign against (smuggling). We are in coordination with the BoC,” Mr. Estoperez told BusinessWorld.
He added that DA will also assess the sugar inventory ahead of any further import decision, with prices for the commodity also surging.
“We have imported 150,000 metric tons of sugar and the price is still high. We are determining the cause (and) whether or not we need (more imports),” he said.