Correspondence Pests in onion farms
Onion harvest season has started in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija. Armyworms had also begun ravaging onion farms. Farmers are forced to spray pesticides every night to exterminate these destructive worms. They spend more than ₱100,000 per hectare to exterminate the armyworms. They have no choice, lest they allow the onions to melt in one night of attack.
But there is something worse than armyworms. Farmers are rushing to harvest onions before March knowing they will be shortchanged by low farmgate prices. Even now, onion market prices had already dropped due to the influx of imported onions. About 6,000 tons of imported onions arrived in January. The farmgate price of red onion is at ₱180-₱200 per kilo, while white onions are only around ₱100-120 per kilo. The Department of Agriculture said that it is expecting that onion prices will go down to ₱50. What will happen to Pedro the farmer?
While farmers are affected by armyworms and the influx of imported onions, middlemen-usurers in farms are making a killing. The “pasama” or samak system is widespread. The merchant pays for all the costs of production which then will be taken from the gross income. The net income will be divided between the merchant and the farmer. Worse, the merchant sets the price of the produce and all the instruments used for production. The middleman monopolizes the huge part of the harvest while farmers’ conditions worsen.