IN the last quarter of 2022, many were surprised when onion prices reached P700 per kilo in markets nationwide, surpassing meat prices.
The new head of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is determined to prevent a recurrence under his leadership.
In his first appearance before the House Committee on Agriculture and Food regarding the food supply situation in the country, Agriculture Sec. Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. assures that they will continue to monitor onion prices and take steps to avoid a repeat of the past.
“We will hold you to this, especially regarding onions for December. We were assured last year, just for the information of the good secretary, that by August, we were 114% self-sufficient in onions. But unfortunately, come December, the discrepancy was significant,” according to Rep. Mark Enverga, Chairperson, House Committee on Agriculture and Food.
“I confirmed that the price of Sibuyas Pula today is P140, and Sibuyas Puti is P110. I am closely monitoring this, and we will take action to ensure that what happened last year will not occur again,” Sec. Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr., Department of Agriculture stated.
Despite this, Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry reveals that they have received reports of some selling onions for prices ranging from P180 to P200.
“For onions, Director Glenn, is it correct, P140 to P150 in the market?” Enverga said.
“Yes, sir. That’s the average, but there are reports ranging from P180 to P200,” according to Dir. Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban, Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry.
“There’s even P200,” Enverga said.
“Yes, sir. Those reports are limited, but we are closely monitoring it,” Dir. Panganiban, stated.
“And I think you still have expected imports coming in just to balance the price,” Enverga said.
“Yes, sir,” Panganiban said.
DA affirms adequate, stable supply of Agricultural Products in Philippines
Meanwhile, Agriculture Asec. Arnel de Mesa confirms a decrease in pork importation due to the rise in local production. Currently, pork prices in Metro Manila range from P240 to P360 per kilo.
“But for pork, our production has also increased, especially this coming 4th quarter. It has been offset by our local production,” according to Asec. Arnel V. de Mesa, Department of Agriculture.
Asec. De Mesa also stated that the rice supply in the country is sufficient until next year. Currently, rice prices range from P33 to P65 per kilo.
“For the dry season, lean months from mid-January to mid-February, we still have ample supply. Our projection for the first quarter is 90 days. Currently, it’s 80 days without additional imports. However, if Indian rice and additional imports come in, the SPSIC Issuance by the BPI is substantial. If 50% of that materializes, we can expect more imports coming in,” De Mesa added.
Meanwhile, concerning the issue of sugar supply, Secretary Laurel revealed that despite high imports and sufficient sugar supply in the country, its price has not yet decreased.
Currently, sugar prices in Metro Manila range from P78 to P110 per kilo.
The secretary explains,
“When there is a disparity, sugar should be around P85 and not P100. We are implementing interventions soon to address these problems. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose publicly the interventions we will undertake, but efforts are coordinated through DTI, SRA, and DA,” Laurel said.
Congressman Enverga assured that the Congress will continue to focus on the prices of goods and the income of farmers in the Philippines.
This likely means more committee meetings in the House, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, to address the food supply situation in the country.