PRICES of red onions may remain high as supply is still limited, according to the Department of Agriculture in Davao Region on Tuesday, December 6.

The main driver of the soaring prices of red onions is attributed to the lack of imported supply in the market and the limited local production in Luzon that does not meet the current demands in the country.

Alexander Sibuan, market specialist of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division of DA-Davao, said the approximate demand for red onions is 2.34 kilograms per capita while the expected yield for December is only 4,000 to 5,000 metric tons.

He added that the Department of Trade and Industry did not issue a clearance for the importation of red onions, thus only the local variety of onions from Luzon farmers is available in the market.

“We cannot meet the forecasted yield versus demand per capita however the onion growers association in Luzon, nihangyo sila na dili sa mag import (they asked to hold importation) because they have (an upcoming) harvest this month,” Sibuan said during a media forum.

With the presence of imported red onions in the past, prices dropped to around P130 to P150 per kilo compared to the approximate P320 price seen today at public markets based on DA-Davao’s price monitoring.

Engr. Rubylyn Gomez, regional coordinator of the High-Value Crops Development Program of DA-Davao, revealed that there are four onion farmers in Davao Region however they only produce around 3,000 kilograms.

Gomez said the farmers are located in the municipalities of Matanao, Magsaysay, and Mawab with a farming area of more or less 1,000 square meters each, producing 300 kilos of red onions.

The local production in Davao Region usually goes within their locality while some are delivered to wholesale markets in Matanao and Digos City and some are also sold by retail.

"Kung production supply this coming December, wala pa (We do not have a production supply this December). Our expected harvest is February 2023. The farmers are not into big farming areas like one or two hectares,” she said.

Gomez explained that onion farming is not widely practiced in the region because onions are laborious to grow. She said onions are vulnerable to pests, and rain, and prefers a particular type of soil in order to thrive.

She added that the local farmers actually attempted a December harvest but failed because of the continuous rainy weather.

However, DA-Davao said they provide support for the existing farmers by providing seedlings and training on farming technology. They also promote onion farming since it is a potential income generator.

Because of this, Davao Region will continue to depend on the supply from top onion producers in Luzon, particularly Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and MIMAROPA. ICM