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Encouraged to declare war on onion hoarders, the DA and DTI

On Monday, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez met with representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and urged them to launch a full-scale campaign against those who hoard onions and other agricultural products as well as dishonest traders.

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The DA’s use of its PHP276 million Kadiwa Food Mobilization Fund under the 2023 budget to purchase farmer harvests at prices above production costs and sell them through Kadiwa at farm gate prices to pressure stockpilers to sell their supplies was among the action plans finalized during the meeting.

Romualdez issued a warning last Sunday to merchants and hoarders who were manipulating the availability and prices of onions and other agricultural products.

“We can no longer tolerate it. It’s excessive. He declared, “People are hurting. Kawawa ang tao.

He requested that DA and DTI representatives assist Congress in locating these shady businesspeople so that they may be invited to the upcoming congressional inquiry on the manipulation of agricultural product supply and prices.

“Please let us know if you know who these people are. We will invite each of them, and if not, the police will make an arrest,” he said to officials.

A free trade system gives businessmen the right to make a profit, but Romualdez said that this shouldn’t be done at the price of or to the detriment of the general populace.

That’s where we in Congress draw the line, he continued.

He asked the relevant agencies to work more closely together and coordinate their efforts to launch a successful campaign against hoarders and manipulative dealers, noting that the agencies provide varying perspectives on the matter.

“We want to make sure you are operating at your best since we are also giving the DA and your department a budget. Although it doesn’t appear to be the case right now, we want to get there. Because ultimately, with the finest data and input, we can create the best policies to prevent situations where dishonest individuals and cartels are profiting from the scenario, he said.

He gave the DA and DTI officials the reassurance that they would have the full backing of the House as they waged an all-out campaign against hoarders and dishonest merchants of onions and other agricultural products.

We are here to assist you, and that is why we are. You won’t be helpless. We’ll make use of the House’s authority. We’ll expose them, and after that, we’ll hold them accountable for this, he continued.

Rep. Mark Enverga, head of the Committee on Agriculture, was urged by Romualdez to use all of his authority and resources “to get to the bottom of this.”

DA Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista stated during the meeting that the department will purchase the onion growers’ yield at PHP50 per kg, or more than the PHP20 per kilo production cost, and sell it in Kadiwa stores as part of the larger scheme.

“Our aim is meant to be farmgate pricing, but farmer must make a profit,” the statement continues. “If our cost of production is PHP20 and it is purchased at PHP50 (per kilo) through Kadiwa, then we may sell at the farm gate,” Evangelista said.

She claimed that the program might be used for other agricultural items in addition to onions.

Along with purchasing their goods, the DA will assist regional farmers by giving them access to cold storage facilities.

“Kasama nun is (It includes) the facilities for cold storage as well. The goal is to offer all the additional infrastructure our farmers require in order for them to be able to sell their product for a fair price, according to Evangelista.

Along with tackling the ongoing issue of agricultural product hoarding, Romualdez emphasized that in the long run, the government must make greater investments in agriculture and offer more assistance to farmers in order to increase production.

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