MANILA — Five of the country’s biggest supermarket chains have committed to buy direct from onions and garlic farmers in a move that could end price manipulation by cartelized middlemen and traders, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said.
This unprecedented direct access by local growers to local markets nationwide “could be the start of the struggle to dismantle cartels controlling these important commodities in the country,” he said.
Piñol added that with the participation of SM, Rustan’s, ShopWise, SaveMore and Mindanao-based NCCC Mall, “I am seeing the start of the liberation of the country’s onion and garlic farmers from the control of cartels who have monopolized the industry for ages now.”
Piñol had earlier revealed that Filipino onion-garlic farmers have suffered long from depressed prices for their produce because a “few, rich and powerful groups control the industry” through huge importation and unscrupulous practices such as hoarding and smuggling.
The Agriculture chief also revealed it was Go Negosyo head Joey Concepcion, the Presidential Adviser on Economic Enterprise, who put together the crucial agreement.
“I instructed Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to make arrangements with Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) head Jocelyn Badiola to prepare a substantial loan package for the country’s onion and garlic farmers,” he added.
Piñol said he would have to look into other issues such as storage facilities for onion and garlic and possibly delivery trucks. PNA-northboundasia.com