LAOAG CITY -- The National Tobacco Administration on Tuesday appealed to all tobacco growers in the region to sell their products only to licensed traders to ensure fair market price.
NTA officer-in-charge Luzviminda Padayao explained there are at least two NTA-licensed buying stations located in Batac City and in Currimao town, where they can offer their goods.
“We have no control over cowboys/traders who are going to villages to buy tobacco leaves. These NTA-licensed buying stations are being monitored through the use of prescribed trading forms such as purchase invoice vouchers (PIVs) and certificate of purchase,” she said in an interview Tuesday.
Before the opening of the trading season, the regulation department has conducted a series of meetings and orientation seminars to discuss current trading situations and other trading concerns with the tobacco leaf buyers, and to observe buying process on the trading floor.
Padayao gave this advice as some farmers in the province gathered at the Aurora Park in this city on Tuesday and appealed to all concerned authorities to increase the price of tobacco leaves this harvest season.
Genaro dela Cruz, representative of the Alyansa Dagiti Mannalon iti Ilocos Norte, in a radio interview said the price should increase up to PHP128 per kilo as a result of the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, which has affected much their production cost.
The current tobacco price ranges from PHP60 to PHP75 per kilo.
“This is a five-day protest expressing our sentiments and we are starting here in Laoag,”said dela Cruz, noting other farmer groups in Ilocos Sur all the way to La Union will also be holding protest rally starting Tuesday.
According to the Farm and Technology Services Department of NTA, tobacco growers can earn an average of PHP70,000 net income per hectare should they enter into a contract-growing scheme backed by the local government.
“Tobacco is the only crop that gives me a decent source of income for my family. So I appeal to the government to continue giving its support to tobacco growers like me,” said Alvin Bilgera, who started harvesting tobacco leaf in his farm in Agtangao, Bangued, Abra last week.
He also hoped that the quality of tobacco leaves would command higher grades and prices in the trading center. (PNA)
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