Agri dep’t defers imposing SRP for onions

Agriculture Assistant Secretary and spokesman Rex Estoperez on Thursday said that Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban preferred the deferment of the suggested retail price for red and white onions by not signing the draft of a Memorandum Order that is supposed to govern the price of the basic ingredient.

“It seems he’s not convinced with the cost structure as regards the SRP. For now, we will not announce an SRP for onions,” Estoperez said.

“We are coordinating also with the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) right now on what we can do, but we will continue monitoring and inspecting the cold storages of the onions,” Estoperez added.

Panganiban, said Estoperes, took into consideration the zero compliance with the previous SRP imposed last January when the price of onions shot up during the end of previous year.

“The SRP did not work out, we don’t want to repeat this, plus the fact there are some things that we have to address first, particularly the supply. Then we’ll encourage the farmers to lower the farm gate prices. It appears that didn’t happen and they didn’t do so. Nobody followed our SRP. We have lessons learned there including our setting up of the SRP,” he explained.

The DA implemented a P250 per kilo SRP in December 2022 but the price of onions skyrocketed to P720 per kilo amid a supply shortage. In February this year, the department also imposed a P125 SRP on imported onions but still failed to get compliance from traders and retailers.

For onion growers like Jimmy Vistar, the DA has to do more to know the situation on the ground so it could determine an equitable SRP.

Wala naman ginawa ang DA BPI. Hindi naman sila namimili, ultimo pagpunta sa mga taniman ayaw nilang mainitan. So paano sila magdidikta sa mga prices? Puro sila press release. Dapat gumawa sila ng solusyon (The DA-Bureau of Plant Industry hasn’t done anything. They don’t buy, and they don’t go to farms because they don’t want to be under the sun. How can they dictate prices? All they do are press releases. They should find solutions), Vistar told the Daily Tribune.

Meanwhile, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura president Rosendo So said there is no reason for retailers not to comply with the P150 per kilo SRP for red onions and P140 per kilo for white onions as he encouraged consumers not to patronize retailers selling beyond the P150 per kilo SRP.

The lobby group’s executive director, Jayson Cainglet, criticized the DA’s deferment of the SRP order “unfortunate and pathetic.”

“We find it strange and unfortunate for the DA to postpone the SRP. Unless the real objective of those that refuse to sign the SRP is to keep retail prices of onions high. Unless there are other schemes available… the SRP is our best bet, and it’s working, in fact… for the past four days,” Cainglet said.

Prices of onions in public markets still range from P180 to P200 per kilo.

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