Senator Imee Marcos has stepped in to increase the supply of onions that can be sold at Php170 per kilo in Kadiwa outlets and rolling stores before the New Year.

Marcos called “pointless” the Department of Agriculture’s (DA’s) plan to raise the suggested retail price (SRP) of onions to control runaway prices that reached Php720 per kilo on Wednesday.

The DA should instead tap a neglected source of funding, she said, to expedite the harvest and direct purchase of locally grown onions for delivery to Metro Manila.

“Activate the Php140-million fund from the 2021 budget, which was realigned for the DA’s Food Mobilization Program this year,” the senator pointed out.

“Raising the SRP for onions from Php170 to Php250 per kilo only invites more ridicule, with market prices now more than four times the present SRP,” she added.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Cooperatives, initiated on Wednesday the direct purchase of up to 300,000 kilos of onions from Nueva Ecija farmers’ cooperatives whose grants she had sponsored from the DA’s Kadiwa program.

On the same day, she also contacted Metro Manila mayors to add Kadiwa outlets in wet markets and to map out the routes for Kadiwa rolling stores.

“As of this morning, the mayors of Las Piñas, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Manila, Makati, and Valenzuela have confirmed their support. I am confident that more onions can be sold at Kadiwa prices on December 30 and 31,” Marcos said.

Onion harvests will continue until February in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Batanes, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Tarlac, and Oriental Mindoro.

“A strategy for their purchase and delivery should already be ironed out. Down the road, a more efficient system of monitoring agricultural output must be put in place, or we will always be at the mercy of hoarders and smugglers in cahoots with corrupt officials at the DA,” the senator said.