Amid the decreasing hectarage of tobacco farms, the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) is determined to assist farmers grow their tobacco production through a contract-growing scheme, seedling assistance, modernization, among others.
NTA Administrator Robert Victor G. Seares Jr. said the ongoing pandemic and effects of recent calamities on tobacco farms give his agency more resolve to assist tobacco growers.
“They are essential to our economy, the backbone of the industry, and they should be given the support that they deserve,” he added.
Moving forward, NTA will continue promoting a market-oriented approach in tobacco production through the Tobacco Contract Growing System (TCGS).
This includes the adoption of a contract-growing scheme to enhance participation of the private sector in technology transfer, production assistance, and leaf marketing.
The number of registered farmers who planted tobacco increased by 39 percent from 29,830 in 2018 to 2019 tobacco season to 41,516 in 2019 to 2020.
However, tobacco farm areas decreased by 7 percent from 29,839 hectares in 2019 to 27,764.56 hectares in the same period in 2020.
For the crop year 2020 to 2021, a total of 4,830 tobacco farmers tilling 3,357 hectares would continue receiving production assistance under the NTA Financing.
At the same time, 2,049 tobacco farmers covering 1,399 hectares were funded by both NTA and the local government units (LGUS), where LGUs provided the production inputs such as fertilizers and insecticides.
The current tobacco season commenced in the last quarter of 2020.
In total, for the 2019 to 2020 harvest season, the total output of the country’s tobacco production across all types (Virginia, Burley, and Native) increased by 5.58 percent from 46.6 million kilos valued at P3.92 billion in 2019 to 49.2 million kilos valued at P4.27 billion in 2020.
For the Rice Production Project, an integral component of the Integrated Farming and Other Income Generating Activities Project (IFOIGAP), NTA assisted 3,361 farmer-cooperators with an area of 2,820 hectares in Regions 1, 2 and CAR.
Farmer-cooperators were granted production/credit assistance equivalent to 40 percent subsidy.
As for the Improved Tobacco Seedling Production project, NTA targeted 19.6 million seedlings to be distributed free to tobacco farmers.
To produce the seedlings, farmer-cooperators were provided with technical assistance, inputs, and implements. The seedlings will be bought back by the agency at P0.30 per seedling as an additional income to the seedling growers.
Another agency’s program is to modernize the conduct of field activities on tobacco production through the Tobacco Farm Mechanization Program (TFMP).
This includes the application of new technologies and using farm machineries and equipment to increase the farmer’s efficiencies of labor utilization and reduce the cost of production.
For 2020, NTA allotted P27.92 million for the distribution of four-wheel tractors to 26 farmers’ cooperatives and associations in tobacco-growing provinces. The tractors are expected to service a total of 1,517 hectares.
The initial fund for the program was sourced from the Corporate Fund and it was proposed that future funding will be sourced from the Tobacco Fund (RA 4155), NTA said.