CITY OF SAN FERNANDO Central Luzon is among four onion-producing regions to get cold storage facilities for the staple agricultural product this year in support of local growers, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced yesterday.

Aside from Central Luzon, the facilities with a capacity of 20,000 bags and worth some P40 million will rise in the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Mimaropa regions.

In March 2022, the DA in Central Luzon turned over two cold onion storage facilities, with capacity of 10,000 and 20,000 bags, respectively. to farmers of Valiant Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Barangay Marcos Village, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, and a P20-million facility to the Sapang Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Moncada, Tarlac.

Recently, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who also currently heads the DA, underscored the need to support local onion farmers, stressing that importation should not be a long-term response to protect growers and benefit consumers with lower commodity prices.

“We have to go back to the onion growers and help them so that we can have production, we don’t need to import. We became so used to importation... When we take supplies from abroad, its inflationary forces are also being brought to the Philippines,” he said.

In a separate statement on Monday, the DA disclosed that only 5,775 metric tons of the approved 21,060 metric tons (MT) of fresh imported onions have been initially cleared to enter the country before the peak harvest season as only 142 sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances for importation were issued from January 9 to January 13.

The DA has already reduced the proposed 22,000 import volume to 21,060 in which 4,525 MT of fresh red onions are expected to enter several ports -- 3,875 metric tons in Manila; 400 MT in Davao; and 250 MT in Subic, while some 1,250 metric tons of fresh yellow onions will also arrive in Manila (1,075 MT), Subic and Davao (75 MT each), and Cagayan de Oro (25 MT).

As of Sunday, the prevailing price range of local red onions in markets range from P350 to P600 per kilo.