By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has met with the farmers of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan to address the decline in domestic production of onion and garlic, as well as lessen the country’s dependence on imported garlic and onion.
DAR presided over the dialogue with farmers particularly to address the production and marketing problems of onion and garlic farmers in the area.
Regional Director Virgilio Acuna said the dialogue was organized to address the reported deep decline in the domestic production of onions and garlic in the area.
In a data provided by DAR-Ilocos Region, it indicated that the decrease of onion and garlic production in the Region has resulted in the importation of onion and garlic from other countries.
Acuna said latest numbers showed that 94 percent of the supply of garlic and 60 percent of onion in the Philippine market are already imported from the foreign markets.
He also enumerated various problems faced by the onion and garlic industry in the area which includes plant diseases and the lack of quality seedlings which severely reduces the quality and volume of production, the entry of cheap imports and smuggled garlic and onions.
The massive inflow of imported and smuggled onions and garlic to the local markets also dropped the prices of locally produced onions and garlic that eventually incurred losses to the local farmers.
Acuna also took note of the lack of new production technology available to local garlic and onions producers as among the factors in the decline of the production of said farm products.
He added that the dialogue also aimed at directly identifying from the farmers their present status and predicaments in light of the current industry situation.
“From there, we would determine the possible types of assistance that can be provided to the farmers by the government, local government of units and private sectors such as technical assistance, inputs, production and post-harvest facilities, support infrastructures, credit, farm types of machinery and assured market support among others,” Acuna pointed out.
DAR’s Head Executive Assistant Shiela Enciso delivered a message in behalf of OIC Secretary Rosalina Bistoyong that emphasized her support to the onion and garlic industry in the country.
The other factors on the decline of the production of onion in the region were also presented by PARPO II Maria Ana Francisco during the dialogue.
These factors, Francisco said, include the prolonged rainy season during the recent years and the severe attack by a fungus.