Imported onions to be sold this week

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 24) — The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) said nearly 600 metric tons (MT) of imported onions are in cold storage and are expected to be sold within the week.

"Ayon sa latest information, nasa may 218 metric tons ng dilaw na sibuyas, or yung puting sibuyas, 370 metric tons ng pulang sibuyas yung nasa cold storage na," BPI Industry Information Section OIC Jose Diego Roxas said at the Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday.

[Translation: Based on the latest information, there are around 215 MT of yellow or white onions, and 370 MT of red onions that are already in cold storage.]

Roxas said these were being subjected to a second border inspection — meaning authorities are looking at the containers to ensure they are as declared.

He added the onions in storage are just part of the 5,000 MT expected to arrive in the country within the week.

"Sa ngayon inaasahan natin na within this week maaari na nating mabili yung mga sibuyas na pumasok," added Roxas.

[Translation: Right now, we expect the onions to be sold within the week.]

The initial plan was to import 21,000 MT tons of onions, but BPI officer-in-charge Gerald Panganiban said around 5,000 MT are expected to come in since the application to import so far only covers 25% of the approved allotment.

Roxas said other shipments of the produce are expected to arrive by Friday, but the government would be very strict with the deadline.

"Pag merong hindi umabot, yun ay pababalikin sa pinagmulan. Tayo po ay mahigpit na magpapatupad ng must-arrive date na January 27 para naman maging patas tayo at hindi bahain ng sobra-sobra yung merkado ng sibuyas," he said.

[Translation: Should there be shipments that do not come on time, they will be sent back to their point of origin. We will be strict in following the must-arrive date of January 27 so we can be fair and not flood the market.]

Earlier this week, some lawmakers protested the importation, saying it would be harmful to farmers.

EXPLAINER: Why onions in PH are now more expensive than meat

Consider farmers

In a sit-down interview with the media on Monday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the welfare of farmers must also be a priority.

"We always have been talking about production, production, non-importation, et cetera. And we have to always remind ourselves that you know what we are really talking about is the livelihood of the farmers as well," he said.

He said part of the problem concerning agriculture is that younger people do not want to get into the trade.

The short-term solution to the increasing prices of food products has led to the need to import, the president said. He added, however, that timing is crucial.

"The schedule of importation —both of sugar and onion, all of the other commodities — the schedule is very, very important. It’s not just a question of one lump importation at the beginning of the year. It has to come in at the proper time so you are not competing with local farmers," he said.