A FARMERS group denounced the government’s importation plan for agricultural goods, saying the entry of onions, rice, and sugar from other countries to increase supply has not been effective in bringing down prices.
“Importation is a solution for the lazy,” the Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said in Filipino in a statement on Monday as they, along with consumer and other advocacy groups, held a protest outside the Department of Agriculture head office in Quezon City.
“What we should strengthen is local food production, not importation,” KMP said.
The group cited that while onion prices have dropped to P340 to P550 per kilogram (/k), this is still higher than the P250/k retail price suggested by the government. Refined sugar prices range from P90-P100/k, while egg prices are at P8-P10 a piece.
“It seems that egg prices will end up costing P20 first than a kilogram of rice,” the group said, citing a campaign promise made by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to bring the staple’s price to P20/k under his administration.
On Jan. 6, Mr. Marcos approved the importation of over 22,000 metric tons of onions, supposedly to meet high demand and pull-down prices. The Bureau of Plant Industry said 12,417 metric tons of rice arrived in the country during the first week of 2023, while the Agriculture department talked of plans to import 64,050 metric tons of sugar.
KMP said the country actually has enough onion supply, but smugglers and cartels are manipulating market supply and prices.
“Significant agricultural subsidies and other forms of support to onion growers like access to markets, free and public cold storage facilities, to name a few, could have mitigated the cartel abuse in onions,” the group said.
The Senate has started investigations on soaring onion prices while the House of Representatives will conduct its own probe next week. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz