MANILA, Philippines – The local tobacco industry continues to defy the economic odds for the second straight year, following reports of another bumper harvest and good prices this year which augurs well for the two million Filipinos dependent on this industry.
The Philippine Association of Tobacco-based Cooperatives (PATCO) reported that a good quality leaf is now being traded as high P80 per kilo compared to P61 a kilo last year—a price which was considered unprecedented at that time.
The National Tobacco Administration (NTA), meanwhile, noted an increase in the number of farmers who planted the leaf in more areas of Northern Luzon.
Its district office in Vigan City, for instance, reports show that more than 2,252 hectares of land were planted with tobacco compared to only to about 1,691 hectares last year. From these areas, more than 3,530 people were engaged in tobacco farming as against only 2,778 last year.
In Candon City, also in Ilocos Sur, the NTA district office there estimated that more than 7,000 hectares were planted with such a crop as against 6,900 hectares last year. There were also more than 8,500 farmers directly engaged in planting tobacco compared to a little over 8,000 farmers last year.
The NTA said it could not still give the exact volume of tobacco being traded as farmers continue to bring in their harvests at this time. Besides, the NTA is still collecting data from the field, especially in the hinterlands where tobacco is not usually grown.
Nevertheless, the tobacco agency expects a bigger quantity this season as farmers shifted back to tobacco farming from planting corn, onions, and garlic.
Cigarette manufacturers as well as third-party leaf buyers have been extending assistance to tobacco growers in the region to improve the quality and quantity of their crop.
Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. (PMPMI) managing director Chris Nelson said the farmers’ decision to return to tobacco growing reinforces confidence that the future of the tobacco industry in the country is bright.
But he cautioned that much work needs to be done, especially in training farmers on good agriculture practices to produce quality tobacco leaf.
Nelson bared PMPMI plans to help in the expansion of tobacco farm lands to aid tobacco farmers meet the demands of local tobacco by PMPMI and other cigarette manufacturers.
He said expanding the current tobacco areas will give the tobacco farmers more opportunities to increase their livelihood while, at the same time, benefiting PMPMI which has to import tobacco to meet its requirements for production.–Philippine Star