Bureau of Plant Industry probed over imported onions
October 5, 2023 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — An internal investigation has been conducted within the Bureau of Plant Industry after the House of Representatives ordered BPI officials to explain the proliferation of imported onions in local markets, the Department of Agriculture said yesterday.
BPI director Gerald Glenn Panganiban said the DA has submitted its reply to a show-cause order issued by the House committee on agriculture and food.
Committee chair Wilfrido Mark Enverga said that BPI officials could be cited for contempt if they fail to prove that the decision to issue import permits for the onion was done after consultations with farmers’ groups.
Jayson Cainglet, executive director of farmers’ group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), earlier told The STAR that the plight of the local onion farmers has worsened eight months after the House investigated the price manipulation and hoarding.
“Our importation is based on scientific basis and on supply and demand. We do not open importation abruptly. We always consider what the data and the market show. We balance between the farmers, our consumers and the right prices,” Panganiban said.
He said the BPI gives updates to the DA on the issuance of import permits on onions.
“We always report this to the Office of the Secretary and we coordinate with the AMAS and other agencies,” Panganiban said, referring to the agribusiness and marketing assistance service.
Cainglet said the current problem of local onion farmers is larger compared to 2022 when retail prices of the bulbs reached as high as P720 per kilo.
He said the local onion stock could last until January.
Cainglet said that even white onions started to arrive in June and July 2023 despite assurance from the BPI that the imported bulbs have yet to enter the country.
During consultation with onion farmers, the BPI confirmed that import permits have been issued for the importation of 6,000 metric tons of red onions.
Of the figure, 827 metric tons have arrived in the country.
Latest monitoring by the DA showed that retail prices of local red onions ranged between P120 and P190 per kilo; local white onions, between P110 and P170 and imported white onions, between P100 and P160 per kilo.