Senator Cynthia Villar vowed to look into the resurgence of the garlic cartel in the face of the rising cost of garlic in the local market.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food said the rising cost of garlic today is reminiscent of the 2014 scenario where the price of garlic has risen to more than P300 per kilo and prompted Villar to head a Senate inquiry into the matter.
“Ang findings namin noon, ang farm gate price ng garlic is P40 per kilo sa Ilocos Norte. Iyong landed cost naman ng imported ay P17 per kilo. Kung titingnan mo iyon, the price of garlic should not go beyond P100 per kilo. Kaya napatunayan ko na may kartel,” Villar said.
“Akala namin they have learned their lesson pero ngayon tumaas na naman. But this is a different administration, iba na po ang Secretary of Agricuture, iba na rin po ang director ng Bureau of Plant Industy (BPI). I have to let them know what happened last time so we can stop this cartel,” the veteran legislator said.
The seasoned lawmaker filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 389 directing the Senate Committee to conduct an inquiry on the reported garlic importation by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its implication to the sudden rise of prices in the market.
According to the resolution, the price of garlic per kilo increased from P140 to more than P200. It was also noted that there has been a reported decrease in local production, particularly in Ilocos Norte of garlic because of the lack of planting material.
The DA reported that more than 57,000 metric tons of imported garlic has been given import clearance by the BPI and that as of this month, only 12,000 metric tons arrived.
The combined local production of garlic has only been an average of 9,000 MT a year, or 6 percent only of the yearly demand of about 139,777 MT, which is barely a month’s garlic requirement of the country.
In July 2014, the lady senator presided over the investigation on the rising cost of garlic where she pointed out that the high price of garlic is due to manipulation because traders buy the import privilege of garlic cooperatives.
She also recommended the review of the mandate of the National Garlic Action Team, which failed to ensure stable garlic supply in the country and balanced representation from both government and private sectors.
“There is an urgent need to look into the garlic price situation to protect the general public from unscrupulous machination and provide a development policy for the local garlic industry,” Villar said.