A marketing company in Ambato has maintained its activities in the face of the crisis facing the onion growing sector. Photo: The Trade

In the meantime, the impact of low production coming out of the last harvest is being felt in the national market Onion Paitena This decline in eating has made products across the marketing chain more expensive.

According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), An item that caused the most upward pressure on the consumer price index in the food sector, with a 5.16% inflation last May.
The difficulty of harvesting in Peru and Colombia due to climate problems was one of the factors affecting the price increase.

Peru is the one that supplies Ecuador the most of its production that deficit we need to generate enough.
But this commercial dynamism is more characterized by smuggling, as imports through official channels come mainly from Chile.

Ecuador’s agriculture produces 50,000 tons of onions each year. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), the country needs at least 150,000 tons of this product every year.

Edison Kobo, district director of the Tungurahua MAG, confirmed that pyetna onions and white pearls are the most widely used in the country’s gastronomy.

The annual cost, which is produced at the moment of Pietena, is six pounds per resident. Buyers report that the price of one pound of onion has gone up from 0.24 US dollars to 0.30 last month.

In the first 13 days of June it reached USD 0.50 and since the start of the national strike it has reached USD 0.70. “This shows a significant increase, especially for use in restaurants and Ecuadorian homes,” Kobo explained.

Faced with this, work is being done to encourage local production and increase the number of hectares in productive areas such as Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Karchi, Loza, Santa Elena and Loza.

There is no border control

Producers agree that the sector has been frustrated by smuggling, which discourages them from planting.

The MAG chief in Tungurhua agreed with him and said that the reason for the decline in cultivable land in the country was the entry of banned onions and garlic.

“There are little onions that enter legally. This is a recurring problem and has not been controlled at the border. This lowers the price and does not represent a profit for the farmer, “said Edison Kobo.
According to the central bank, only 413.4 tonnes of red onions and white pearls were imported from Chile in 2020. Last year only 50 tons came.

Camilo Yukalla, an onion grower at the Rumipamba site in Cuero Canton, and president of the Tungurahua Producers Association, is concerned about the gap.

He planted two hectares of land in August last year and 1,200 sacks in February this year. The price of a mule, which they call the equivalent of two sacks, was মার্কিন 30 last May and জুন 35 in June before the strike.

For eucalyptus, producing onions is no longer a business, as they cannot compete with Peruvian onions that enter the border in large quantities.

“Everything shrinks without the control of the authorities and when there is less farmland,” he complained.

In Rumipamba, about 20 hectares of onions are planted every year and the area has not grown lately.

Business impact

At least five quintals of onions are eaten every month at the Maremoto Seafood Restaurant in downtown Ambato.

Jose Chilko, owner, confirmed that high costs affect sales of his business.

And he says he can’t raise the price of onions or beans because people don’t eat them later. One way to support yourself, he adds, is to ration the amount.

Impact on trade

According to the central bank, onion exports declined in July and September 2021.
Only 5.6 tons were shipped for a price of USD 53,000.

Exported figures were lower than in 2020, when 7.7 tonnes were sold.

The Central Bank study concludes that between 2016 and 2021, between 2% and 5% have been planted. It occurred more frequently in Tungurahua, Loja, Chimborazo and Ajuya. The study further revealed that farmers marketed 92% of production in 2021 at an average selling price of USD 18 per quintal.

In the previous year, the price was USD 21. The most widely used marketing channel by producers was sales through intermediaries. The average yield has reached 423 quintals per hectare.

The main problems faced by farmers during harvesting were: low tuber selling price, high interest rate, high labor cost, labor shortage and adverse weather (12%). In addition, cities lack communication channels to mobilize their production.


Price list issued by Ambato Wholesale Market is a reference for supply centers in the country. There it is clear that in less than a month half a kg of onions has increased by 66%.

Tungurahua had a crop of 600 hectares, but when onions entered from Peru and Colombia, the number of hectares in Querrero, Sevalos, Mocha and Ambato dropped to 480. In Chibulio and Pilahuin this crop has disappeared and now they collect strawberries and blackberries, which are more profitable.

High production costs due to increased input and fertilizer discourage Ecuadorian farmers.


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