BONGABON, Nueva Ecija -- More than 1,000 onion growers from the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Tarlac staged a protest rally here on Friday to call on President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the massive importation of onions in the country which is starting to kill the industry to the detriment of the local onion farmers.
Members of the Local Onion Growers for Economic and Trade Cooperative (LOGNET) led by Israel C. Reguyal came out in full force to seek the President’s help as the huge onion glut has caused the prices of local onions to plunge with local farmers already reeling from the said oversupply.
“Nangangapa na po sa dilim ang ating mga magsisibuyas, mahal na Pangulong Digong, kung itutuloy pa nila ang pagtatanim ng sibuyas. Nitong late October, bumagsak po ang presyo ng halos kalahati dahil sa pagdagsa ng imported na sibuyas. Luging-lugi na po ang ating mga magsisibuyas,” said Reguyal.
Data showed that Nueva Ecija, dubbed the onion capital of the country, accounts for 60 percent of the country’s total onion production with this town as the top onion producer with a 3,000-hectare production area.
This November, the price of local onion is pegged at P40 per kilo, higher than the imported onions at P28-P30 per kilo.
Reguyal said their group made a manifesto addressed to Bureau of Plant Industry chief Vicencio R. Mamaril asking him for a moratorium on the issuance of import permits (IPs) on onions this November and December.
The group fears that this rampant issuance of IPs could be a source of corruption which unscrupulous traders or farmer-cooperatives can capitalize on to be able to continue to smuggle imported onions.
He said this two-month reprieve would give onion farmers ample time to sell their local produce which is currently stockpiled in various cold storage facilities in the province.
“Hiling namin kay Pangulong Duterte na itigil ang importasyon at mabigyan kami ng sapat na panahon na maibenta ang aming sibuyas na nakaimbak sa mga cold storage dahil hanggang Disyembre lamang ito tatagal,” Reguyal said.
The group also asked the President to put up a ceiling price for onions in consultation with the local onion growers and concerned government agencies in order to protect the consumers as well as farmers from overpricing and other manipulations.
According to the group, these imported onions were unloaded in big container vans through our ports in Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos City and in Manila.
It was learned that at least 400,000 bags of local onions are reportedly stockpiled in various cold storage facilities, including some 100,000 bags from the province, that have yet to be sold due to the influx of imported onions.
Another onion grower, Kagawad Rodrigo Odon, 45, of Bgy. Pugo, Bayambang, Pangasinan, who joined the rally, lamented that they got no assistance from the Department of Agriculture when their farms were hit by floods and army worms.
“Lugi kaming mga magsisibuyas ng apat na taon sa Bayambang, nagkabaun-baon kami sa utang. Binagyo kami, binaha at inuod, walang tulong naibigay ang pamahalaan at ang DA,” he said.