By CNN Philippines Staff, January 18, 2023; CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18) — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill seeking to establish an agriculture information system (AIS) in all cities and municipalities that will serve as an online database on the demand for specific agricultural and fisheries commodities.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1374, Gatchalian said such a system will deter manipulation of food prices and prevent unwarranted importation of farm products.

“Dapat may regular na stock balance at price monitoring na isinasagawa ang DA (Department of Agriculture) sa lahat ng produktong pang-agrikultura na makakatulong sa polisiya at tamang tyempo kung kailan mag-aangkat ng mga ito nang hindi maaapektuhan nang husto ang lokal na produksyon ng ating mga magsasaka at makakatulong sa mga konsyumer sa pamamagitan ng mas mababang presyo ng pagkain,” Gatchalian said Wednesday, as he cited onion prices – which soared to as high as ₱720 per kilogram last December.

[Translation: The DA should conduct regular stock balance and price monitoring of agricultural products in order to create a policy and determine the right time to import. Hence, the local production of our farmers will not be affected and our consumers can expect lower prices.]

If passed into law, the proposed database will merge and synchronize data on specific commodities that are readily available in a particular locality to meet market demand.

The AIS will monitor inputs by producers and buyers, including information during post-harvest and processing.

The system will also feature a search engine that will allow farmers, fish breeders, and fisherfolk to look for potential and actual buyers, “and for such buyers to search for farms, farmers, and available agricultural and fisheries products.”

The DA earlier said it expects prices of onion to go down to ₱100 per kilogram, once imported supply arrives in the country.

The high costs were blamed on low supply, alleged smugglers and cartels, and suspected price manipulation.