Price of tomatoes plunges

Price of tomatoes plunges

THE retail prices of tomatoes plunged to as low as P25 per kilo, but a ranking official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said there was no excess supply of the product.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary and Deputy Spokesman Rex Estoperez said that the oversupply was limited only in one area after the dumping of tomatoes in Nueva Vizcaya.

“Our information (that there is no oversupply) came from the BPI (Bureau of Plant Industry) as it is tasked to oversee the planting of our commercial crops. The oversupply of tomatoes was only pinpointed in one area,” he said in a radio interview.

From a high of P70 per kilo, the price of tomatoes now range from P25 to P30 per kilo.

Estoperez earlier said that the DA is trying to help farmers market their produce.

He said the DA main office already tasked the regional offices to assist the farmers in selling their produce through Kadiwa centers or community pantries.

“We are trying our best to have market matching in the Kadiwa centers. If the tomatoes do not pass the requirement of the institutional buyers, we can have the Kadiwa outlets as alternatives. But since these are perishables, we need to find a long term solution for our farmers,” Estoperez added.

On the other hand, he announced the implementation of P125 suggested retail price (SRP) for onions.

“We will implement the P125 SRP so we need to coordinate with the local government units, market masters, including our enforcement group to be able to bring down the prices of onions,” the official said.

Based on the monitoring of the DA in Metro Manila markets, the retail prices of imported white onions ranged between P160 and P200 and imported red onions, between P160 and P260 per kilo; local white onions, from P150 to P260 per kilo and local red onions, P250 to P310 per kilo.

Estoperez assured consumers that the government will bring down the prices of onions.

“We will be able to do it in the next few days, first at the Kadiwa centers, and the monitoring in the market is ongoing. It should go down to P125 per kilo where the farmers will no longer suffer losses and the consumers will also be happy,” he said.

He said that the DA enforcement group led by Assistant Secretary James Layug will ensure the compliance of the traders.

Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura President Rosendo So said that the Department of Trade and Industry will lead the crackdown on the violators of P125 SRP on imported onions.

On the other hand, Estoperez admitted that while the DA consulted a farmers’ group on the importation of onions, it failed to include the group Onion Farmers Philippines.

Onion Farmers Philippines Administrator James Ramos earlier said that the onion farmers suffered from the importation.

“We failed to talk to them as it was the other group of farmers who was included in the consultation,” Estoperez said, adding that the department is ready to listen to the group of Ramos to address their concerns.

He said the DA is also addressing the issue of cold storage facilities.

“We have cold storage facilities in Mindoro, Nueva Ecija, but these are not enough to accommodate the production of our farmers during harvest season,” the official said.

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