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Support pours in for the local onion industry

The Department of Agriculture considers onions as a cash crop
By Entrepreneur Staff |

If you think business is all about opening a store or restaurant in Metro Manila think again. Business opportunities are plenty, from Metro Manila and other big cities throughout the countryside.

Sometimes, it’s even right at your backyard.

Who thought that the lowly onion is actually a priced commodity in the country? The Department of Agriculture has even categorized onions as a cash crop.

To promote the propagation of onions, the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Center for Post-harvest Development and Mechanization (DA-PhilMech) has identified four provinces that will be given onion storage facilities as part of the government’s thrust to reduce post-harvest losses in high value commercial crops.

DA-PhilMech Executive Director Ricardo L. Cachuela said the storage facilities for onion will be located in Nueva Ecija, Mindoro, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, which are major onion producers and have provinces beside or nearby that also produce the crop in abundance.

“Onion is one of the cash crops for farmers in areas like Region 1 and 3 and Region 4B, but farmers could earn more from onion if we are able to reduce post harvest losses from around 20 percent to 25 percent,” Cachuela said.

The facility holds loosely stored onions in bulk or bags in a shed structure with good air circulation and cool storage conditions because too much heat or moisture can shorten the shelf life of onion. The onion hanger facility is a two storey structure that costs P1.5 million each. A facility can store between 2,000 to 3,000 bags of onion.

Based on the survey of PhilMech, onion is among the agricultural commodities that are stored in the country’s cold chain system along with lettuce, broccoli, meat and tuna.

PhilMech is finalizing the financial plan for the four onion storage facilities, with the aim of tapping the cooperation of farmer cooperatives, private sector and local governments, among others.

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After the four onion storage facilities are established, PhilMech will identify more provinces that can host similar facilities.

Once in place, the onion storage facilities could also help farmers seek buyers who could pay them better prices since they could store their onions properly. Under proper storage conditions with the right temperature, onions can be stored from six to eight months. DA-PhilMech hopes to establish the onion cold storage facilities this year.

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