Tobacco farmers earn higher profit this season
By Freddie G. Lazaro
VIGAN CITY (2 April)-- Tobacco growers are richer this season due to the continuous increase in the pick-up prices of flue-cured Virginia tobacco leaves in the province, a leader of the country's largest group of tobacco farmers said.
Carlos Cachola, who is the president of the Philippine Association of Tobacco-Based Cooperative (PATCO), disclosed that "cowboy tobacco buyers" had reached the pick-up price for the highest class of the flue-cured Virginia tobacco leaf to P68.00 per kilo with is P17.00 higher than the P51.00 approved floor price for tobacco's prime class during the recent tripartite conference.
The latest tripartite conference held on August 25, 2005 was attended by the tobacco farmers, tobacco buyers and tobacco manufacturers. The conference, that was presided by the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) headed by Administrator Carlitos Encarnacion, was held every two years and its result was applicable for two seasons.
"As the holy week comes in, we are still expecting the increase of tobacco prices per kilogram as long as its quality will not changed," Cachola said.
According to Cachola, the rains that struck the province last week were favorable as it helps improve the quality of the flue-cured tobacco leaves especially those tobacco plants under the topping stage.
Based on the result from the recent tripartite conference, the approved tobacco floor prices per kilogram were as follows: For Virginia tobacco: Grades AA - P51; A - P49.50; B - P47.50; C - P45.50; D - P40.50; E - P39.50; F1 - P35.50; F2 - P32.50; and R (Reject) - P13.50. For Burley tobacco: Grades A - P37.50; B - P35.50; C - P33.50; D - P29.50; E - 28.50; F - P21.50; and R - P13.
Reports from the two branches of the NTA in Ilocos Sur showed that a total of 10,790 tobacco farmers were planting a total land area of 8,360.21 hectares with Virginia tobacco this season.
"Comparing to the total number of farmers and hectarages of Virginia tobacco planted last year, it is almost similar this year," the NTA report said.
Earlier, Administrator Encarnacion had assured the high price of tobacco this season as long as its quality is good.
Encarnacion also assured the continuous existence of the tobacco industry considering its various uses such as good material in paper making, as organic insecticide and eventually an organic feeds or fertilizer.
The Virginia tobacco industry is the source of the RA 7171 tobacco excise tax law authored by then Congressman Luis Chavit Singson, in which the law is presently pouring billions of funds for infrastructure and livelihood development projects for the four Virginia tobacco producing provinces such as Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra and La Union. (PIA Ilocos Sur) [top]