THE MAYOR of Bongabon town in Nueva Ecija, tagged as the “onion capital” of the Philippines, recommended to include a provision in a proposed law that will allow government to buy onions directly from farmers and handle distribution to markets.
At a House committee on agriculture and food meeting on Wednesday, Bongabon Mayor Ricardo I. Padilla said such a direct-purchase policy will ensure the “security of farmers” and protect them from being “manipulated by traders.”
Onion retail prices in the country recently spiked to as much as P700 per kilo, but farmers have said their harvests were actually bought at only P8 to P15 a kilo by traders.
The committee meeting tackled bills filed by Nueva Ecija representatives Mikaela Angela B. Suansing and Rosanna V. Vergara looking to create an institute that would focus on the research and development of the local onion industry to address recurring issues on production and distribution.
Mr. Padilla also said in Filipino that “there must be a definitive term as to whether it is the owner or the one cultivating the farm that will be given assistance.”
Ms. Suansing filed House Bill No. 1379, which will create the Philippine Onion Institute, to be located in Nueva Ecija.
The agency will be tasked to do research work for the onion industry; help in improving existing onion production methods; and promote sales in domestic and foreign markets.
Ms. Vergara’s House Bill No. 3110 seeking to establish the Philippine Onion Research and Development Center has similar provisions with that of Ms. Suansing’s, but includes trainings and capacity-building programs for onion farmers and the need to provide recommendations before granting importation permits.
The committee created a technical working group to further discuss the provisions of the bills. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz