As the price of red onion continues to soar, the Department of Agriculture (DA) advised the public to purchase only what they could, instead of buying a kilo.
“To be reasonable and practical, ano pero madaming magagalit sa akin, e ‘wag tayong bumuli ng isang kilo ‘di ba. Kung ano ang makakaya nating bilhin yun muna,” DA Deputy Spokesperson Rex Estoperez said in an interview with dzBB on Wednesday, December 28.
Red onion costs P500 to P750 per kilo, based on DA’s price monitoring on markets in Metro Manila on December 28.
The low supply of red onion and its high demand due to holidays are two of the reasons why red onion is expensive, Estoperez explained.
Last September, the DA has already projected that the local farm output of onions will not be enough to meet the expected demand until the last quarter of the year.
Estoperez said they cannot issue an import permit to pump the onion supply in the country amid reports of rampant smuggling of red onions.
Moreover, he argues that local farmers might suffer with an import permit.
“In the meantime, itong sinasabi ng mga magsasaka January, February mag-pi-picking season, malalaman po natin pag iyan [pagtaas ng presyo] po ay nagpatuloy then let’s decide on the other,” the Estoperez said.
How the public reacted
The suggestion of the DA’s deputy spokesperson to purchase red onions depending on the consumer’s financial capacity drew flak among the public.
Some social media users said that they have been doing that but the price of red onion is still high. They also called for proactive measures from the government.
“Consumers always do what they can. I am sure DA knows the “tingi” culture of Filipino consumers. I am also sure that not all of DA think of advising in this manner. Please do better than this advice,” an online user wrote.
“What?? Don’t buy onions by the kilo?? What kind of remark was that?? Whatever quantity you’re buying it will pass through the weighing scale… still the same!! Whata,” a Facebook user wrote.
“Didn’t the DA know that even if we buy per piece, it’ll still be expensive as f**k?” an online user wrote.
A vegetable vendor told dzBB that a small piece of onion sells for P20.
“The Department of Agriculture is again shifting all the burden to individual people. Ni wala man lang kasamang plano. Napaka-walang kwenta,” sociologist Ash Presto frustratingly said.
“Not the point, DA. Prices are too high, you should strategize how to lower costs of food supply so that it won’t be too expensive for Pinoys,” a Twitter user said.
Early this month, the price of red onion in the country has become the most expensive in the world, based on a global price monitoring website.
As of December 29, the Philippines still maintains its rank.