PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte —- The Universal Leaf Philippines Inc. (ULPI), the biggest tobacco-growing and processing company in the country, is eyeing for another 1,000 hectares for its expansion project in partnership with local farmers here.
In an exploratory meeting with representatives of the ULPI for the proposed planting area, Piddig town mayor Eduardo “Eddie” Guillen said this is a welcome development for his constituents.
According to Guillen, the town has about 100 hectares planted with tobacco which entitles the municipality an additional revenue of Php 33 million per year from its share from tobacco excise tax.
If plans do not miscarry, the ULPI also wants to put up its own buying station in Piddig.
Compared to rice farming, farmers attest that they gain more when planting tobacco with an average income of Php 50,000-Php70,000 per hectare per cropping. An average rice farmer has merely about Php 20,000-Php 30,000 yield per hectare.
“We are actually aiming for food sufficiency in Piddig. Right now, we have 4,000 hectares planted with rice during the wet season and 1,000 hectares during the dry season. We have therefore 3,000 hectares possible area for crops needing less irrigation,” said Guillen as he noted these areas can be planted with high value vegetables including corn, mung beans and tobacco.
The proposed site for tobacco farming is being eyed in Barangays Sucsuquen, Tanggawan, Sta. Maria, Abucay and Estancia.
Piddig town is the first among the 22 towns and 2 cities of Ilocos Norte that signified intent to embrace consolidated farming systems to boost farmers’ productivity and achieve sustainable inclusive growth.
To date, around 200 farmers have consolidated their farm lots in Barangay Estancia where they have already started planting hybrid rice. Assisted by the Department of Agriculture, Philippine Rice Research Institute and the local government unit of Piddig for the provision of farm inputs, technical and marketing assistance, the farmer-cooperative and its farmer-stakeholders hope to achieve its target of 8-12 tons harvest per hectare. PNA/northboundasia.com