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Recognition for diligent farming well-earned

FLORANTE B. Tingle now has a reputation among his neighbors and peers in Pidpid, Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur as an outstanding tobacco farmer. He was adjudged recently by the National Tobacco Administration as provincial winner for Virginia Improved Flavor Category in this year's Tobacco Grower of the Year (TGY) contest.

At present, Florante is also a freelance architectural designer and building contractor, thanks to his Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree from the University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City in 1998. He was also an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), for three years, having worked in Taiwan as a factory worker from 1999 to 2002. But he considers tobacco farming as his major source of income.

He was able to construct their family house, now ongoing improvement and expansion, and purchased three motorcycles for his family.

According to the TGY Branch Technical Committee of NTA Candon, Tingle is deserving of the TGY award. He tends to his tobacco farm meticulously. He follows diligently and strictly the production technology for the variety NC 2326, a Virginia-Topped tobacco. He starts seed sowing in mid-October so that he will be done transplanting until mid-December. He opts for early planting to avail of irrigation water from the irrigation canal and thus be free from fuel expenses for the water pumps. He only harvests mature and ripe tobacco leaves, and harvests only what his curing barn can accommodate.

During the contest period, crop year 2015-2016, he scored high in every aspect of on-farm evaluation, namely, technology adoption, overall physical condition of plants, harvesting and curing, farm recording and innovativeness. For his one-hectare farm, he harvested 2,570.85 kg, most of which, or about 85% are high grades, with zero rejects or low grades.

Florante delivers his tobacco produce to his contracted buyer twice only and makes sure he pays his production assistance at the very first delivery.

He follows the required technology for tobacco production and tobacco curing to maximize income. And he sees to it that he has enough capital before embarking on tobacco production. As much as possible he avoids having debts or loans. "Most farmers do not earn as much because they have lots of debts to be paid after harvest, and I don't like that to happen to me," he said.

His market tie-up during the contest period was leaf buyer Trans-Manila Inc., but now he is under NTA financing. Other than tobacco production, he has been an active cooperator of the Kahuyang Pangkabuhayan at Pangkakalikasan, a Renewable Fuelwood Energy Farm project of the agency, since 2014. He has planted 2,500 tree seedlings and he is hoping to harvest them before the year ends.

In spite of the challenges besetting the tobacco industry, he will continue producing tobacco as long as there are buyers or markets for their crops. "I've been into farming for many years now, and I've known a lot about tobacco production," he said.

Florante was born on September 3, 1974 in Pidpid, Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur, with a twin brother, Josefino. He went to Babayoan Elementary School, in Babayoan, Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur and Tagudin General Comprehensive High School in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur. He married Vanessa Javillo, an OFW in Hong Kong, in 2010 and they are blessed with a son named Mo, now 7 years old. (Amelia Veronica L. Lacaden)

(Florante B. Tingle and other provincial winners of the Tobacco Grower of the Year, crop year 2015-2016, will receive their awards, cash and Plaque of Appreciation during the 30th Anniversary celebration of NTA at the Central Office in Quezon City on July 28, 2017.)