The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), together with Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF), teamed up to boost onion production in the country and at the same time improve local supply systems.
The partnership between the two organizations was formalized with the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between SEARCA, an organization that serves ASEAN countries, represented by Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio and JGF Executive Director Ma. Gisela Tiongson.
Tiongson stressed that “farmers need partners who can provide them with access to information and technology to help them improve their productivity, increase the value of their produce and, in the process, build their agro-enterprises.”
“I believe SEARCA’s experience and expertise in education, training, and research will provide an important dimension in deepening our understanding of the complex challenges facing our farmers,” she said.
Through its Emerging Innovation for Growth Department led by Dr. Rico Ancog, who is also Associate Professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), SEARCA is set to implement the JGF-funded “Project SAYA: Strengthening Agricultural Yield of Allium cepa L. (Onion) in the Philippines,” which will focus its analysis on yellow onion.
Dr. Gregorio pointed out that onion is classified as one of the country’s high-value crops. However, in spite of the 7.49-percent average growth in onion production from 2015 to 2019, the local supply meets only up to 70 percent of the country’s total requirements.
He noted that “the large demand for onion from large corporations and food establishments is being met by additional supply from imports.”
He said investigating farm-level factors affecting the local production will provide empirical basis to formulate interventions to enhance productivity.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that Central Luzon has the lion’s share of the total onion production at 62.5 percent with the Ilocos Region and MIMAROPA (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan) far behind at 17.48 percent and 15.78 percent, respectively. In view of this, Ilocos Sur and Occidental Mindoro were selected as the Project SAYA sites.
In Ilocos Sur, the project team will work with the Tagudin Agroentrepreneurs Association and the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU). In Mindoro Occidental, SEARCA will collaborate with the Lourdes Multipurpose Cooperative and Mindoro State College of Agriculture and Technology (MinSCAT).
Dr. Ancog said Project SAYA intends to determine the present productivity and efficiency levels of local onion production.
He explained that “the technical efficiency of farmers reflects their ability to produce an optimum level of output using a given set of inputs and available technology. Measuring the efficiency of local onion producers may reveal information that is vital to improving the productivity of onion farms.”
To determine gaps and factors affecting onion production in the study sites, Dr. Ancog said one project component will collect farm-level data in terms of environmental conditions, farm practices, and innovations or technologies used.
Project SAYA is also expected to provide recommendations at the farm level and farmer-groups level on the potential interventions and innovations to intensify onion production.
“A set of recommendations will be developed based on the findings of the analyses to improve efficiency across the supply chain, reduce postharvest losses, and increase yield,” Dr. Ancog said.