In the recently concluded National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAF Council) meeting on April 18, 2022, private sector-partners of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) underscored the need for cold storage facilities in their region to address the issue of oversupply of onions.

“We don’t have cold storage facilities in our region to store them [onions] and they are going to waste. Communicate with us on the demand for onion, so that farmers can do proper planning on planting,” MIMAROPA Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) Chairperson Alfonso Esguerra  appealed to the Department of Agriculture (DA) during the meeting.

In response to the concern, DA allotted a total of PhP85 million in grants to help onion farmers cope with the plummeting farmgate prices and spoilage due to oversupply.

DA issued Memorandum Circular (MC) 14 dated April 27, 2022 that outlined the implementing guidelines for the Enhanced Kadiwa Financial Grant: Sagip Sibuyas Project.

Beneficiaries of said grant are accredited Farmers’ Cooperatives and Associations (FCAs) and their farmer-members located in or whose areas of operations are in Central Luzon and MIMAROPA.

According to the DA, eligible FCAs can receive a maximum grant of PhP5 million. 

Nine FCA beneficiaries in Central Luzon and eight FCA beneficiaries in MIMAROPA will be chosen for the grant program for a total of 17 beneficiaries and grant amount of PhP85 million.

Under MC 14, it was noted that “An eligible FCA shall use the financial grant for trading capital to cover all or combination of the following costs: procurement cost of onions bought directly from farmer; attendant direct costs in hauling and delivery to markets and/or cold storage facilities; and cold storage rental fees.”

The DA, through its Regional Field Offices (RFO), will directly release the grant funds to eligible FCAs.

Eligible FCA beneficiaries are those accredited as CSOs under DA. The authority to approve the accreditation of CSOs shall be in accordance with the Memorandum Order issued by the DA Secretary, wherein PCAF was designated as the agency in-charge of facilitating the process.

As the Farmer-Director for the month of May, Esguerra said that he will include in his agenda to check on the implementation of the Sagip Sibuyas Project. RAFC Chairs are designated as the Farmer-Director each year during the Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s Month of May under PCAF’s Farmer-Director (FRED) Program.

“We will inspect and coordinate with farmers to check their stocks [of onion] and we will monitor the progress of the program implementation,” Esguerra said.

The FRED Program aims to strengthen the partnership between the private and the public sector towards the development of the agriculture and fisheries sector. | JCL