Ilocos tobacco farmers to benefit from $600 million PMI Regional Leaf Warehouse in Subic
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (18 September) -- The $600 million Regional Warehouse to be established by Philip Morris Inc. at the Subic Freeport in Zambales before the year ends is eyed to boost tobacco production in Ilocos, the tobacco producing region of the country.
For the last few years tobacco production in Region I has tremendously declined due to the unpredictable weather patterns which adversely affects production triggered by the rising cost of production, plus the campaign against smoking, made farmers shift to plant palay, corn and various high value cash crops.
To encourage farmers to continue to plant tobacco, the Government through the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) provides free technical assistance to farmers from seed bedding up to marketing, ensuring quality harvest and better market price, even as the local government units also provide counterpart assistance sourced out from their respective share from the Tobacco Excise Tax (RA 7171).
On the other hand, private tobacco companies and manufacturers, in their desire to capture the limited tobacco supply have resorted to various marketing schemes such as; contract growing, financial or inputs assistance through loan.
In La Union which is the second tobacco producing province of Region I after Ilocos Sur, a total of 2,813.59 hectares is devoted to tobacco with 4,680 farmer beneficiaries.
With the establishment of the regional leaf warehouse in nearby Zambales that will store tobacco leaf harvests in the country, it is expected that tobacco production will increase not only in La Union but in the other tobacco producing provinces as well.
Increased tobacco production will also boost the income of the farmers and will bring higher share of excise tax for the tobacco producing provinces like La Union.
The setting up of PMI warehouse at Subic will further boost President Arroyo's vision of the Freeport as a regional hub for the Asia-Pacific region. (PIA La Union) [top]