Multi-sectoral group signs deal to boost tobacco growing

LAOAG CITY—A group composed of farmers, buyers, local government units and the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) signed a memorandum of agreement on Wednesday to revitalize tobacco growing in the province.

Starting the cropping year 2018-2019, the provincial government and some tobacco-growing municipalities in Ilocos Norte will directly be involved in the Tobacco Contract Growing System (TCGS).

TCGS is a market-oriented and technology-based production system, addressing specific volume and quality requirements of the market.

Nestor Casela, a member of the NTA Governing Board, said this is the first time that the agency has included the LGUs “in all aspects of the contract growing which is being piloted in Ilocos Norte”.

“We expect that the other LGUs, which have multi-million shares from the tobacco excise tax collection of the government, in other tobacco growing provinces will see the benefit of this project,” Casela added.

Under the agreement, the Ilocos Norte government will provide farm machinery and implements, while the LGUs involved will provide farm inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides and will assist in monitoring the proper documentation of tobacco production during trading.

Farmer-cooperators will also ensure delivery of usable or quality leaves at the stipulated volume of production per hectare and pay all obligations to the agency and their contracting firms.

The NTA and the Universal Leaf Philippines and Trans Manila Inc. will provide the technical, production and marketing assistance and proper documentation of tobacco.

Prior to the signing of the MOA, tobacco growers and farmer groups were consulted about the project and encouraged them to work closely with the NTA branch office and the LGU for assistance.