MANILA - The Philippines is experiencing a shortage in onion and garlic as local farmers are unable to "produce much" of the crops amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Thursday.
The Philippines' garlic production equates to 8 percent of the country's total consumption, while local onion yield amounts to 85 percent of demand, Dar told senators in a virtual hearing.
"Domestically, we are not able to produce much," he said.
"There is a possibility of increasing the hectarage, including the productivity per unit area of onions in the country... [But] garlic maybe a hardsell. It's a long way to go for high levels of [garlic] production," he said.
Dar did not say why the Philippines does not produce enough onion and garlic, but told lawmakers that the Department of Agriculture has been urging Filipinos to engage in backyard gardening to improve food security in households.
"Food production is number 1. Inelastic yung demand ng pagkain. We need to advocate to every Filipino to plant, plant, plant sa mga bakuran nila," the DA chief said.
"We have a big program now on 'Plant, Plant, Plant". Mayroon na halos P400,000 na naibigay namin in terms of mga buto, mga seedlings... at native chickens ay nagbibigay na din tayo," he said.
Despite the perceived shortage in onion and garlic - which are frequently used in Filipino viands - the Philippines has enough food supply, Dar had said in a press conference in April.
"According to the Department of Agriculture we should not be concerned as basic food requirements nationwide such as rice, fish, pork, chicken, and vegetables are sufficient," Nograles said in a televised briefing.
"Huwag po tayo mag-alala. Tuloy-tuloy po ang supply ng pagkain," he added.
(Let us not worry because there is a continuous supply of food.)