Under the leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., the Department of Agriculture (DA) shall set up the Optimization and Resiliency In the Onion Industry Network (ORION) Program to support the local industry, and increase production and income of onion stakeholders of the country.
Upon the directive of the President, the DA conducted a stakeholders’ meeting on Monday, January 30, where the department’s Bureau of Plant Industry, High Value Crops Program, Agriculture and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS), and other concerned units, sat down with growers, traders, importers, and other stakeholders of onions in order to thresh out issues that have ensued a spike in the price of the common food ingredient since late 2022.
Discussions highlighted the challenge that even as onion remains to be a kitchen essential and is required in most Filipino dishes, production does not meet the 260,000 metric tons (MT) annual demand as it is only grown during the dry season, and is suitable in selected provinces of Luzon and Visayas.
Other factors affecting the price and supply of the commodity are the increase in the price of production inputs, including fertilizers and seed; low level of mechanization and high labor cost; expensive marketing and distribution scheme; limited access to credit facilities; and inconsistencies in information.
Thirty-five percent loss is also noted after harvest due to lack of facilities such as cold storages and improper handling. In 2022 alone, the DA recorded a 100,000 MT loss.
ORION seeks to promote a competitive, resilient, and profitable onion industry providing high quality, safe, affordable, and sustainable supply of onion to meet increasing domestic demand. During its implementation it will improve productivity and efficiency of onion plantations thru PhilGAP certification, reduce pre- and post-harvest losses, improve product distribution and logistics, and ensure sustainable supply in the local market.
Among the strategies and programs that will be carried out is providing easy access credit loans, which may be used for the purchase of equipment and establishment of facilities. Farmer clusters and associations will also be organized for production and market integration.
Also under ORION, innovative farming technologies will be pushed as well as value-adding processes to maximize production and income.
The DA will also lead regulatory activities, and push for the creation of a national information database that ensures updated and relevant data on production and marketing.
The department will continue to carry out an intensified distribution scheme for production and marketing support, to allow the sector to grow and profit.
During the stakeholders’ meeting, it was recommended that the Local Price Coordinating Council under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) be tapped for more efficient price monitoring.
In 2022, a total of 283,172 MT red and yellow onions and shallots were harvested from the 29,728 hectares production area. However, monthly requirement was posted at 21, 679 MT.
The Marcos administration has pledged to ensure food security for the country, with the President taking on the helm of the DA in an effort to solve decades-old problems besetting local food production.