SENATOR Cynthia Villar on Tuesday asked the Senate to look into a reported resurgence of a garlic cartel as supposedly indicated by a sudden rise in garlic prices in the local market.
Villar, who heads the Senate committee on Agriculture and Food, noted that the increase in garlic prices is reminiscent of 2014 when the prices of garlic ballooned to more than P300 per kilo.
The 2014 garlic price surge prompted the Senate agriculture committee to investigate the matter that concluded that a garlic cartel exists.
“We thought that they [cartel]learned their lesson but now we are sensing a similar scenario. We have a different administration, a different Secretary of Agricuture. I have to let them know what happened last time so we can stop this cartel,” Villar said.
Her Senate Resolution 389 wants the agriculture committee to conduct an inquiry into a reported garlic importation by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its role in the sudden rise of garlic prices in the market.
According to the resolution, the price of garlic per kilo increased from P140 to more than P200.
It cited a report on a decrease in local production, particularly in Ilocos Norte, of garlic because of lack of planting material.
The DA reported that more than 57,000 metric tons of imported garlic have been given import clearance by the Bureau of Plant Industry and that as of this month 12,000 metric tons had arrived.
The combined local production of garlic has only been an average of 9,000 metric tons a year, or six percent only of the yearly demand of about 139,777 MT, which is barely enough for the country’s monthly garlic requirement.
“There is an urgent need to look into the garlic price situation to protect the general public from unscrupulous machination and provide a development policy for the local garlic industry,” Villar said. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA