Abra tobacco farmers get financial assistance
by Maritess Beņas
Bangued, Abra (16 January) -- Tobacco farming in Abra is a single cropping season. Because of this, tobacco farmers are idle during the second cropping and are therefore left without an income during the rest of the year.
In response to this problem, and in order to enhance the productivity of the tobacco farmers and increase their family income, the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) has adopted a special program to capacitate them to have a continuing activity all-year round.
For some years now, the NTA had been providing soft loans to the tobacco farmers in the province to help them do rice farming after the tobacco season.
For this year, since the repayment of loans given out last year had not been very successful due to the damages caused by typhoon Ondoy, NTA devised a mechanism to source funds for the rice farming activity of the tobacco growers. The funds distributed to the farmers as loans are the repayments of the loans of the previous year which are rolled back to the same farmers.
Esmeralda G. Valera, manager of NTA-Abra said they have negotiated with the Universal Leaf Philippines, Inc. (ULPI), the tobacco trading center operating in the province to finance the funds needed by the tobacco farmers. The NTA in turn, committed to facilitate the collection of the loans by monitoring the trading activities of the tobacco farmers particularly those who have acquired financing through the ULPI.
A total of 146 farmers cultivating a total of 143.75 hectares in the tobacco-growing municipalities have been given the rice production loan in the amount of P1.771 million.
The loans are payable in six months. Interest is very minimal, only 1% per month and a 2% service fee. Penalties are however imposed on late payment of the loans.
The tobacco-growing municipalities in Abra that have availed of the rice production loan are Pilar, San Isidro, Villaviciosa, Pidigan, San Quintin, Langiden, Bangued, Tayum, Peņarrubia and Luba. (PIA-Abra) [top]