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Onion farmers say millions worth of produce lost in cold storage


A FARMING cooperative from Bongabon, Nueva Ecija said it lost 128,000 bags of onions which were improperly stored, rendering the crop unsellable and possibly contributing to the onion shortage.

Israel Reyugal, president of the Bonena Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Bongabon, told the House committee on agriculture and food that the onions, which he valued at P168 million, were rendered unmarketable after being exposed to temperatures that were too low at a cold storage facility in Bulacan.

He named the cold storage company in his remarks to the committee. BusinessWorld is withholding identification of the company while seeking comment from its representatives.

Mr. Reyugal said the cooperative is currently pursuing legal action against the privately-owned cold storage facility.

“Onions are sensitive,” he said, adding that “in May or June, we saw that the temperature (at the facility) was between minus 3 and minus 5 Celsius,” he told the panel, by which time the produce could not be saved.

According to the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, onions must be stored at between 0.5 degrees Celsius and minus 0.5 degrees. 

He said that the loss of the crop may have contributed to the high onion prices that happened late last year. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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