DA eyes financing, linkup with supermarket chains for onion farmers
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has committed to implement several measures, which include the provision of government financing for a marketing agreement between onion farmers and big supermarket chains, to strengthen and protect the local onion industry.
DA Secretary Manny Piñol, in a meeting with officials of the national association of onion farmers, gave assurances that the DA will implement a provision in the Food Safety Act of 2013 that requires the agency to inspect all agricultural imports for the protection of local farmers from illegal importations.
"What we want to do is to make you (onion farmers) more competitive so you can produce more even at current operating costs so you can earn more," Piñol said.
He said DA is also monitoring the operation of unscrupulous traders who dump excess onion imports into the local market during harvest time to drive the onion farming sector to bankruptcy and force them to make money just from imports.
To address the immediate need of local onion farmers to sell their produce, Piñol said he scheduled a meeting with representatives of big supermarket and restaurant chains like SM, Robinsons, Shakey's, Jolibee, Shopwise, Savemore and Mindanao-based NCCC malls last Wednesday evening, to finalize an agreement to buy direct from local onion farmers as arranged with the help of Presidential Adviser for Economic Enterprise Joey Concepcion.
Piñol said DA is ready to provide financing for the onion farmers to allow them to supply the supermarket and restaurant chains on credit.
He instructed DA Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña to work with the onion farmers' group to determine how much market financing is needed to implement the onion supply agreement with the big supermarket and restaurant chains.
Piñol also instructed Laviña to assist the onion farmers in improving their marketing techniques for their produce, including the proper labeling for local produce to instill consumer loyalty and pride.
He also said the DA will assist local onion farmers become more competitive by helping them adopt new farming technologies and techniques to lower production costs and increase farm yields.
He cited an offer by VietGrow, one of Vietnam’s biggest vegetable seeds producer and fertilizer manufacturer, to set up demonstration farms in North Cotabato, Southern Leyte, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Ilocos Norte and Mindoro.
Laviña said DA will work with the local onion farmers to draw up a roadmap for the development of the onion industry from farming to post harvest production and marketing to improve their incomes and make them more competitive against imported onion.