Phl eyes onion exports, sends trial shipment to Japan

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Created on Monday, 01 April 2013

The Philippines is eyeing to export yellow onions to other countries, starting with Japan.

The Department of Agriculture is partnering with the National Onion Growers Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. (Nogrocoma) to make it a reality. Several DA and NOGROCOMA officials sent off a trial shipment of 20 metric tons of yellow granex onions to Japan, on March 16, 2013, at the Manila Harbor Center.

The onions were harvested from Bongabon, Nueva Ecija — considered as the country's onion capital —- and loaded in a 20-foot container van bound for Osaka, Japan. The shipment is expected to land in Japanese soil on March 20, 2013.

Agriculture Secretary Chief Proceso J. Alcala said "this simply means that Filipino farmers can produce quality farm products like onions for export to countries like Japan."

“If the initial shipment conforms to the quality standards and accepted by the Japanese market, it would pave the way to further boosting our onion industry, and providing our farmers assured market and income, not only in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, but also in other onion-growing areas in the country,” the DA chief added.

The trial shipment was a result of a research funded by the DA High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP) through the Bureau of Agricultural Research, called “Enhancing the productivity of yellow onion towards commercialization for the export market.” Under the project, Bongabon farmers were trained to produce cost-efficient, export-quality onions using quality seeds and modern production technologies,

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Salvador S. Salacup, who represented Secretary Alcala during the send-off, said it has long been the vision of the DA to train and empower farmers so they can export, not only onions, but other vegetables and agricultural commodities as well.

For her part, Nogrocoma CEO Ms. Dulce Gozon said if the trial shipment to Japan were successful, the country may start exporting yellow onions again after 13 years. She said the country’s onion industry suffered a slump in the 1990s due to the influx of cheaper smuggled onions that eased out local onions in the domestic market.

With the revival of yellow onion exports, more farmers in Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Occidental Mindoro and other provinces would be encouraged to plant yellow granes and earn more income, Gozon said.

Last year, the country produced a total of 124,830 metric tons (MT) of onions, worth P3.9 billion in current prices. Of this volume, yellow onions comprise 15% of total production, Gozon said. The rest are red onions (55%) and shallots (30%).

Ms. Leah Cruz, chairperson of the National Onion Action Team, said Filipino farmers should produce the right quality and size of onions to penetrate and create a niche, not only in the Japanese market but also in other possible export destinations.

HVCDP director Jennifer E. Remoquillo said the DA will continue to provide needed support to further prop up and make the country’s onion industry globally competitive, in partnership with Nogrocoma, other onion farmers’ groups, and other concerned DA agencies.

These include providing farmers with quality planting materials and other farm inputs and equipment, onion hanger storage facilities, marketing assistance, conduct of appropriate and location-specific researches, and establishment techno-demonstration farms to showcase different onion varieties, among other interventions.

Other DA officials present during the send-off were Bureau of Plant Industry Director Clarito Barron, Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service Director Leandro Gazmin, and National Agricultural and Fishery Council Director Ariel Cayanan. (DA-AFIS & HVCDP)