MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA), through its series of consultations with fast-food chains and restaurant owners, has paved the way for local onion farmers from Nueva Ecija to be tapped as these food industries’ direct supplier.
This intervention comes amid the supposed shortage of white onions in the country. Significant rise in prices of red and white onions have also been observed in the market.
“Series of consultations and market linkage activities have resulted to the market entry of farmer cooperatives and fast-food chains agreed to buy directly from farmers,” the DA said in a statement.
The “Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura” (SINAG), onion growers, traders and buyers, and farmers expressed their strong objection against the importation of white onions, saying they will be harvesting their off season onion before the end of November, and if the arrival of the imported produce coincides with this, the value of their products will be affected negatively.
“May paunang ani na po kami bago matapos ang Nobyembre. Kapag binaha na naman po tayo ng importasyon, sadsad na naman ang presyo ng mga itinanim naming mga magsasaka (We already have a preliminary harvest before the end of November. If we will be flooded with imports again, the price of what we’ve planted will go down),” Bonena Multi-Purpose Cooperative President Israel Reyugal said.
The DA said the farmers had been working with its Agribusiness and Marketing Services (AMAS) unit to directly sell produce to institutional buyers to address the current scarcity of onions.
The DA also learned, based on conducted consultations, that red onions are acceptable to household consumers while white onions are still preferred by institutional buyers.
To further guide the local farmers on what variety to plant and strengthen contract growing and ties with institutions, the DA said AMAS had also discussed with fast food chains and restaurateurs other pertinent details regarding supply needs: volume requirements, quality control, and product specifications.