DA to set up onion agri trading centers

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) planned to set up trading centers in various parts of the country where onion farmers can get good price for their produce without intervention of middlemen, a senior official said on Thursday.

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DA Undersecretary Emerson Palad said the Agri Pinoy Trading Center (APTC) would be linked as a network so the farmers can get the latest price in the market.

“They don’t have to rely on middlemen,” Palad said.

Prices of onions have been low in the past several weeks as a result of bumper harvest, which has caused an oversupply. The agency turned down rumors of alleged stockpiling of imported onions.

But the DA warned middlemen not to take advantage of the farmers by forcing them to sell at low price. Farmers were allegedly competing with imported onions sold at low prices.

Palad said the agency was looking at the possibility of establishing cold-storage facilities for onion farmers, but he called on cold-storage owners to accommodate onion farmers, who wanted to store their harvests.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala allayed fears of farmers of alleged looming onion crisis in Central Luzon, saying the prevailing low prices were could be the result of bumper harvests.

He denied rumors of alleged stockpiling of imported onions as a result of low prices but said he ordered officials to formulate strategies to help farmers avoid more losses.

On the issue about middlemen, Alcala said: “It is not right that that the farmer who took care of the onions for four months, get so little, while the middlemen, who brought the onions to Manila, get double what the farmer gets.”

Bureau of Plant Industry OIC-Director Paz Benavidez II said less than 10,000 metric tons of white onion arrived from September 2014 to January this year.

But the Agency has not issued any Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance to any importer for red onion since 2012, Benavidez said.

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