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Government denies onion smuggling allegations in Cagayan de Oro

The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) refuted claims that smuggled onions from Holland are saturating markets in Cagayan de Oro, emphasizing that the bulk of onions available are sourced from Luzon.

Arnold dela Cruz Jr., the BPI Region X officer-in-charge and regional manager, reported to BPI director Gerard Glenn Panganiban that after thorough investigations and market monitoring conducted by various Department of Agriculture (DA) offices, there’s no evidence supporting the allegations of widespread onion smuggling in the area. These efforts are part of ongoing market surveillance in collaboration with the DA Regional Field Office and AMAS.

Market price monitoring conducted on Thursday revealed that in Cagayan de Oro City, wholesale prices for red onions—both local and imported—ranged from P50 to P65 per kilo, while imported white onions were priced between P65 to P70 per kilo. Retail prices varied, with local red onions selling for P90 to P170 per kilo, imported red onions at P100 per kilo, and imported white onions ranging from P90 to P180 per kilo.

Data showed that the farm gate price of onions in Luzon, the primary source of supply, ranged from P35 to P55.

The BPI’s report revealed that the Plant Quarantine Office recorded the receipt of 307.1 metric tons of local red onions and 17.6 metric tons of imported white onions in Cagayan de Oro City through seaports and airports during January. Additionally, an extra 302.8 metric tons of local red onions arrived in February.

Dela Cruz noted that these onions originated from various locations including Manila, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, and Nueva Ecija. He also mentioned that imported onions from China, which arrived via the Port of Davao in December and were transported by land to Cagayan de Oro, are still in storage due to decreased demand, with 9.66 metric tons remaining.

To address concerns over potential smuggling, Panganiban said that the BPI has sought the support of the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Customs to enhance monitoring and verification efforts in Cagayan de Oro City.

The BPI continues to monitor the situation in public markets and cold storage facilities across Cagayan de Oro City and other parts of the country. It has been working with the private sector to support cold storage facilities and provide credit assistance to onion growers.

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