by Mauricio Victa / Correspondent
SOME towns in Abra province are being groomed to become among the country’s top producers of high-quality tobacco varieties, it was learned on Tuesday.
Domingo Agme, field training officer and farmer coordinator of the Philip Morris-Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC), said the towns of Viillaciosa, Luba, San Isidro, San Juan and Pilar were found to be suitable for tobacco farming.
Agme also said the PMFTC, a leading manufacturer of cigarettes in the country, saw the potential of these towns in producing quality tobacco as its mountainous terrains, weather and the availability of irrigation are suitable for growing the crop.
He added that the company discovered the towns’ potential after studying the farm soil and the availability of people who are either growing tobacco or interested in cultivating it.
“We see a bright future for [the] tobacco industry in Abra. We are currently infusing all the assistance we could provide [to] the farmers, which we have been doing for other tobacco producers in the country for years,” Agme said.
About 300 hectares of farms in the towns are into tobacco, particularly the K326 and PVH high-breed varieties, which came from Brazil and are used in leading cigarette brands.
Farmers in the country regard tobacco as a cash crop. Compared to rice, vegetables and other Philippine crops, tobacco has a fixed price and thus does not depend on the prices dictated by the market because farmers have ready buyers for their product.
Most of the farmers in northern Luzon and Occidental Mindoro province depend on the tobacco industry for their livelihood because of the huge returns on the investments they get and the ready market they have.
The majority of their produce are sold to companies like PMFTC through contract growing, wherein a cigarette manufacturer loans a farmer or group of farmers their capital with no interest, provide them with technical and training assistance, and later purchase the tobacco the farmers would later produce.
For Abra, Agme said the company’s main objective is to teach farmers the best practices in tobacco farming, taking into consideration the factors affecting labor and production done traditionally and present to them the latest in agronomy, tools and technologies that will reduce labor cost, expenses and time for better yield and improved and more profitable production.