The National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) has approved for registration the Native Batek Chewing tobacco varieties, Lampangog and Sinai, during the 38th NSIC Technical Secretariat Meeting.
A statement from the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) noted that the two varieties, which have been widely used in La Union and Pangasinan for many years, have high yield quantity, which is around 2.43 to 3.16 ton per hectares (/ha), while their quality stood at 70 to 75 percent high grades.
NTA said the two varieties are also resistant to pests. Both varieties passed the evaluation trials in crop year 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020.
The trials were conducted in farmers’ fields in La Union and Pangasinan, and at a Farm Technology and Services Department (FTSD) experimental area.
It can be recalled that the first Native Batek Chewing tobacco variety, Pimminya, was registered to NSIC in September 2020.
In March, amid the declining hectarage of tobacco farms, the NTA pledged to assist farmers to grow their tobacco production through a contract-growing scheme, seedling assistance, modernization, among others.
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 area in hectares decreased by 7 percent from 29,839 to 27,764.56 in the same period.
NTA Administrator Robert Victor G. Seares Jr. said the ongoing pandemic and effects of recent calamities on tobacco farms gave his agency more resolve to assist the 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 production technology transfer, production assistance, and leaf marketing.
For the crop year 2020 to 2021, a total of 4,830 tobacco farmers covering 3,357 hectares were provided 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.