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Tobacco agency conducts consultation with farmers

  • In compliance with PNoy and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala's marching orders which is to work for the upliftment of the lives of the tobacco farmers, the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) conducted a series of consultations in all tobacco-planting provinces in the north.

    … in Ilocos Sur

    Administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza inspected the multi-purpose curing barn (MPCB) cum grain dryer and consulted with the tobacco farmers at Dasay and Marozo in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur during his visit on October 02, 2010.

    Felicitas Cabico, owner of the MPCB unit told the Administrator that she had already used the dryer for her palay harvest and some of her neighbors have also rented it for drying their palay.

    Cabico said the purpose of the MPCB is very laudable especially with the almost daily occurrence of rains.

    However, she requested for the further improvement of the quality of materials and workmanship of succeeding units to attract more tobacco farmers to avail of the project.

    A consultation dialogue was also conducted at the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC) main campus to address the issues and concerns of the tobacco farmers.

    Admin. Zaragoza appealed to them to continue planting tobacco as it is the crop that can give them a big income.(Estrella G. de Peralta)

    … in Abra

    Admin. Zaragoza expressed support to the tobacco stakeholders in Abra during his visit to the province on October 21, 2010.

    In the consultation conducted, Admin. Zaragoza discussed the current issues, concerns, problems and challenges of the tobacco industry and how stakeholders can cooperate to meet them.

    He also presented an overview of the tobacco industry, NTA's mandate, goals, objectives, thrusts, directions and programs.

    Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin expressed his support to the tobacco industry by giving fertilizers, sprayers and water pumps to the farmers who belong to an organization, thus stressing the importance of joining farmers' organizations.

    Dr. Robert R. Bonoan, OIC Deputy Administrator for Operations, also gave emphasis on NTA programs which he said is focused in helping the tobacco farmers uplift their living conditions.

    The consultation dialogue gave new hope and satisfaction to the farmers and enthusiasm to the NTA Staff.

    Admin. Zaragoza also had a short meeting with the staff where he asked their concerns, gave his directives and requested everybody to perform their duties better.(Ethelwolda C. Bosque/ Esmeralda G. Valera)

    … in Isabela

    Another dialogue was conducted on December 14, 2010 at the Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CVIARC) at San Felipe Ilagan, Isabela where 90 farmer-leaders and NTA staff attended. The meeting was intended to gather the idea and intentions of the tobacco farmers on important issues affecting them.

    Joefrey T. Bautista, Chief Agriculturist, presented and discussed the overview of the local tobacco industry and briefed the farmers on NTA operations as well as, its programs and projects.

    Atty. Vicente D. Lasam, NTA Deputy Administrator for Administrative and Legal Management assured the farmers that all tobacco produce will be bought via the purchase commitment by the licensed tobacco buyers.

    He affirmed the effective adoption of floor prices as safety net every trading season assuring the profitability of tobacco farming.

    He pointed out the role of NTA in regulating tobacco importation so that the local produce will remain competitive and recognized the inadequacy and the wide service coverage of the NTA Extension Workers considering the number and geographical situation of tobacco farmers in the province.

    During the open forum, Lasam listened intently to the issues and concerns aired by farmers. Issues raised focused on the tobacco farmers' cooperatives, the inclusion of crop insurance for tobacco, financial assistance for the repair of curing barns and how to access benefits from the proceeds of R.A. 8240.

    In his response, Lasam encouraged the farmers to organize themselves into cooperatives but with a stern warning to develop discipline among its members, not to depend too much on outside capital.

    He said farmers must have a continuous capital build-up and that loans should be based on members' paid capital share, not on his needs, otherwise the cooperatives will fail.

    For tobacco crop insurance, Herman Torres, NTA Isabela Branch Manager told the farmers that the crop insurance program is still being "fine-tuned" by the NTA and PCIC so that it will really benefit the farmers when implemented.

    Farmers were informed that there is financial assistance for curing barns damaged by typhoon "Juan".

    A proposal for curing barn assistance in Region 2 is now ready for submission and consideration of the Administrator.

    RA 8240 was also discussed where, in its initial year of implementation, many farmers complained that they did not receive yet any benefit from the said law.

    Still others observed that the target beneficiaries and intended projects enumerated in the law were not strictly followed by the recipient LGUs, except for a few who adhered to the guidelines.

    The farmers agreed to petition those in power for NTA to handle funds from RA 8240.

    The farmers trust that the NTA will surely disburse the funds as intended and all the farmers will be truly benefitted.

    Atty. Lasam assured the farmers, that all issues regarding the implementation of RA 8240 will reach the attention of proper authorities, and hopefully will change for the better.

    At the end, the farmers also promised to cooperate with the NTA and adopt its programs and policies.

    Atty. Lasam expressed his desire for a regular audience with the farmers so that the issues and concerns besetting them could be addressed immediately. (Joefrey Bautista)

    … in La Union

    The NTA conducted two (2) consultative meetings with the tobacco farmers in the province of La Union to address issues and concerns on the tobacco industry particularly on the production and marketing of tobacco produce.

    The first consultative meeting was held at the San Juan La Union Multi-Purpose Gymnasium attended by 300 tobacco farmers from the 14 tobacco producing municipalities in the province on October 26, 2010.

    Admin. Zaragoza encouraged the tobacco farmers to continue producing tobacco and eagerly answered the questions of the tobacco farmers. According to the Administrator, NTA intends to go into tobacco trading if prices will not be advantageous to the farmers.

    NTA will also review prices of tobacco from the trading centers to tobacco manufacturers and emphasized that NTA will extend in the province financial assistance for tobacco production this CY 2010-2011: Native Tobacco – P1.0 million, Burley Tobacco – P1 million and Virginia Tobacco – P6.0 million.

    The second consultative meeting was held at the Agoo Civic Center, Agoo, La Union last November 25, 2010. Almost 400 tobacco farmers from the different municipalities of the 2nd District of La Union participated in the meeting.

    NTA Deputy Administrator for Regulations and Public Affairs, Atty. Everin F. Molina, expressed his gratitude to all the participants and encouraged the farmers to continue planting tobacco for it is the only cash crop that has a floor price being regulated by the concerned agency, the NTA.

    He also encouraged tobacco farmers to join/participate in all NTA projects.

    Meanwhile, Hon. Eufranio C. Eriguel, Congressman of the 2nd District, shared his views on tobacco production and encouraged farmers to plant Virginia tobacco since Virginia tobacco in the 2nd District is very minimal.

    He also informed the body of the District's share from RA 7171 and RA 8240 which can be used to procure farm implements for the tobacco farmers.

    He encouraged the farmers planting burley and native tobacco to shift to Virginia tobacco production because he believes it is the most profitable tobacco type.

    Other LGU leaders present during the consultations expressed support and promised to convince non-tobacco farmers to plant tobacco especially Virginia tobacco.(Emma Beth F. Balagot)
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