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Bayambang aims to export top-quality onions.

Bayambang, Pangasinan -- With 2,000 hectares of its farmlands devoted to onions, this town is not only living up to its reputation as this region's top producer of red and white "bulbs" but aiming to break into the export market soon.

Mayor Ricardo M. Camacho believes that in expanding their plantation area and overcoming irrigation challenges, Bayambang's onion farmers can produce a steady supply of export-quality onions more than enough for their local market.

"At present, some of our onions are being exported by Chinese traders who deal with local agents. These Binondo-based Chinese export 30 percent of the onions they get from Bayambang. The rest, they market in Manila," said Camacho in Filipino.

He said the local government is lending a hand to local producers by monitoring the water level needed to maintain proper irrigation to the onion farms concentrated in 11 villages.

The top seven of these with significant production of red and white onions are Barangays San Gabriel 1, San Gabriel 2nd, San Vicente, Manambong Sur, Manambong Norte, Paragos, and Tampog.

Based on the onion industry cold storage inventory report conducted by the National Onion Action Team based in Nueva Ecija, at the end of May 2013, the country's total red and white onion cold storage stock this year amounted to over six million bags (152,000 metric tons).

The expected average monthly consumption is placed at 112,000 metric tons for the eight months lean period from June to January, just before the harvest.

The white onions are anticipated to be harvested from last month to this month; while red onions are already being harvested from this month up to March this year.

For this year, red onions are anticipated to reel in more sales than the more perishable white onions.

"The sales revenue could be a big boost to increase the income of onion farmers here to help them defray their basic, daily expenditures and enable them to provide better health and education for the members of their respective families," Camacho said.

He said these earnings could also allow the municipal government to earn money to induce funds to its coffers to support projects needing immediate attention for the development of Bayambang and the welfare of its people.

It can be recalled that in the years 2010-2012, onion farms were hit by bulb rot, a disease that can infect all flower and crop bulbs and is caused by a variety of fungi and a few bacteria.

The supply went down and local officials scrambled to address the problem with the help of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (Philrice) based in Nueva Ecjia.

Philrice scientists got samples and studied the fungi affecting the onions. "Onion farmers were trained by Philrice and given the solutions, pesticides and new technology needed to combat the disease," said Camacho.

CAPTION(S):

RED ONION SEASON - Red onions are harvested from this farm in Barangay Manambong, Bayambang Pangasinan. (Liezle Basa IAaAaAeA~ig

HOMEGROWN EXPORT-QUALITY ONIONS -- Freshly-harvested white onions from Bayambang, Pangasinan, flood the market in Dagupan City as the harvest season for onions peaks this month. The town, despite being hit by a three-year bulb rot problem and challenges in irrigation, has bounced back to being Region 1's top onion producer and now aims to break into the export market. (Jojo RiAaAaAeA~oz
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Title Annotation:Provincial
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Feb 7, 2014
Words:551
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