Here’s why garlic prices are skyrocketing
PDI Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday said that the team created by the Department of Agriculture to ensure the stability of garlic supply is “unnecessary, unhelpful” and even contributed to the problem of high prices of garlic.
Based on the recommendation report submitted to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima by the Office of the Competition, the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT) should be abolished because instead of helping control the spike of garlic prices, it contributed to the problem by allowing monopoly to a preferred group.
“We are recommending its abolition and the establishment of a fair and transparent system that will allow competition in the garlic industry consistent with the dictates of justice,” De Lima said.
NGAT was created in 2012. It is a multi-stakeholder body tasked to ostensibly ensure the stability of garlic supply in the country. Among its members are eight farmer cooperatives.
Investigation by the office showed that the eight farmer cooperatives benefitted in the allocation of permits by the Bureau of Plant Industry for garlic importation. These farmer cooperatives, De Lima said is being controlled by a certain Lilia M. Cruz or Leah Cruz who also pushed for the creation of the National Onion Action Team (NOAT).
De Lima said, Cruz is in control of the bulk of garlic importation in the country.
De Lima said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is already conducting further investigation against Cruz as well as possibility that some officials from the Bureau of Plant Industry are conspiring with NGAT and with the farmers’ cooperatives.
Investigation by the Office of the Competition also showed that there was actually no shortage of supply of garlic. In fact, the group said there were more than adequate stocks of garlic.
The recommendation will be given to President Benigno Aquino III.
An investigation was conducted following the big spikes of prices of garlic reaching as high as P287 per kilo in June 2014, which is 74 percent increase within a one-year period and more than 100 percent increase from average prices.
She said the NBI is determining who should be slapped with a case.