The Department of Agriculture (DA) said Tuesday it has approved the importation of 21,060 metric tons of fresh yellow and red onions.

According to the approved order, these imported onions will only be delivered to selected entry points including the “Port of Manila-South Harbor, Port of Subic, Port of Cebu, Port of Davao, and Port of Cagayan de Oro for strict monitoring purposes.”

In an interview, DA Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez said this move was in response to the tightening inflation amid increasing demand for onions.

“The sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) will be issued now to the applicants… So that one, we are balancing the volume of the harvest of the farmers and the peak season of harvest of the farmers also,” he said.

He said there were several revisions from the recommended version in contrast with the approved measures for the issuance of SPSIC.

At the Laging Handa public briefing, he cited the change in import volume and the timing.

“Pinirmahan na po ni Senior Usec. Panganiban. At may mga pagbabago po doon sa mga rekomendasyon natin, instead of 22,000 metric tons, naging 21,060 ang nilagay na volume. Tapos ‘yung ‘must-arrives’ dapat hindi lumagpas ng January 27 (Senior Usec. Domingo Panganiban already signed it. And there are changes in our recommendation. Instead of 22,000 metric tons, the indicated volume became 21,060. And the ‘must-arrives’ must not be delivered beyond January 27),” he said.

The recommended volume was 22,000 metric tons, where 50 percent will be allocated for Luzon, and 25 percent each for Visayas and Mindanao, with the proposed timing reaching up until the first week of February.

The DA said the approved timing is a way to protect the local production of farmers, especially for the coming peak harvest season from mid-February up until May.

Estoperez, meanwhile, said the temporary importation also intends to lower the retail cost of onions in the market.

“Tinitingnan namin ‘yung sa September level na PHP100 to PHP150, Pero hindi pa ‘yun final. We have to check. Ang importante dito is we have the cost of production ng ating farmers (We are looking into the September level of PHP100 to PHP150. But that’s not yet final. We have to check. What’s important is the farmers’ cost of production),” he said.

As of Tuesday, the prevailing price range of local red and white onions is PHP420/kilogram to PHP600/kg. (PNA)

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