Onions, quite literally, were as good as cash if only for a day at the Japan Home Centre in Panay, Quezon City yesterday.
People flocked to the store’s one day only “Pay with Sibuyas” campaign where a piece of onion is equivalent to one item worth P88 or less.
The store accepted any size or color of onion, but purchase was limited to three items per customer.
Farmgate prices of onions have since gone down to about P180 per kilo from a high of more than P700 per kilo in December as imports arrive.
The Department of Agriculture, however, clarified on Saturday that only a fraction of the more than 21,000 metric tons of onions that were authorized for importation has arrived in the country.
In January, the DA approved the importation of 3,960 metric tons of fresh yellow onion and 17,100 metric tons of fresh red onion.
onion…However, DA Assistant Secretary and deputy spokesperson Rex Estoperez said only 5,000 metric tons of onions were applied for importation.
“Only 3,500 metric tons reached our first border control,” Estoperez said.
Onion Farmers Philippines’ James Ramos, however, said the importation is hurting farmers whom he claimed were not consulted before the DA approved the importation.
“We were not consulted. Suddenly, the importation program was approved,” Ramos said.
Estoperez belied this immediately. “We consulted some farmers before the onion importation plan was approved.”
At the Japan Home Center in Quezon City, customers exchanged their onions mostly for practical household items, such as kitchen utensils and chargers.
Mitzi Gamboa, the store’s marketing head, said the onions collected would be turned over to a community pantry.
“Our goal is not to earn from this campaign. This is our way of helping people especially now that prices of goods have increased significantly,” she said.
For her part, Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry to develop new cold storage facilities in Mindoro, Nueva Ecija, Ilocos, and Pangasinan to help reduce the losses of farmers and help them obtain higher prices for their produce.
“Eventually the availability of cold storage facilities will be a catalyst for the production of other seasonal farm produce,” Hontiveros said. “We should give farmers what they need.”