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. PiAol.
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," PiAol added.
He said 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."
PiAol 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.
PiAol revealed it was Go Negosyo head Joey Concepcion, the Presidential Adviser on Economic Enterprise, who put together the crucial agreement after the Agriculture chief had made an overseas call to him.
Concepcion was in Paris when PiAol phoned him while presiding over the SOCKSARGEN Agricultural Development Program board in Kidapawan City.
Before 6 p.m. PiAol said that, "Tessie Sy of SM, Nonoy Colayco of Rustan's, Jojo Tagbo of SM SaveMore, Leah Lee of SM Supermarket and ShopWise responded and committed to buy their onion and garlic supply direct from the farmers."
The news was relayed to him by Concepcion's focal person for the Go Negosyo Program, Ginggay Hontiveros.
"On my own, I also sent a text message to Riolinda Lim, vice president of NCCC Mall, a chain of about 20 supermarkets in Mindanao who said that brothers Javey and Lafayette Lim, whose family owns NCCC, have pledged to buy onion and garlic direct from the farmers," PiAol revealed.
Following this development, the DA has to work out a system by which onion farmers, especially those from Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, could deliver their produce to the supermarket chains, he said.
The farmers need a working capital, PiAol said, so they could buy their members' produce for delivery to these supermarkets.
They also need a revolving capital since the supermarkets' payment system does not allow direct payment upon delivery, he said.
"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.
PiAol said he would have to look into other issues such as storage facilities for onion and garlic and possibly delivery trucks.
Source: Philippine Information Agency