IMAGE © Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday said it is already investigating the alleged monopoly in the trade of locally harvested onions, following the cry of its farmers against oversupply.

In an interview, Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol admitted that they have received a report from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) that exposed the said manipulation of some traders to the farmers.

This led to the closure of four major cold storage facilities that were allegedly used to pressure onion farmers to sell their harvest at a lower cost.

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The cabinet official meanwhile, clarified that there is no oversupply of bulb onions as its importation has been suspended since October last year.

On March 22, DA released a memorandum order banning the importation of onions.

“This would prevent the cartel from benefiting from their operations where they forced the drop in the buying price of local onions by leasing and closing cold storage facilities to onion farmers,” said Pinol in a recent online post.

“Under an arrangement agreed between farmers groups and the importers, the importation of onions would only be done after the harvest of the local onions,” he added.

In addition, DA is now looking into the request of farmers for additional capital so they can purchase their own harvests. This is in response to reports from DA field offices showing onion prices in some local markets have significantly dropped in recent weeks. In Nueva Ecija, for instance, onions are said to be sold at the price of P12 to P15 per kilo.