Press Release: NTA distributes P20-M to tobacco farmers planting rice; earmarks P200-M more for loans
by Marjorie M. Arriola - Wednesday, 6 July 2011, 01:57 PM
Department of Agriculture
NTA Bldg., Panay Avenue cor.
Scout Reyes, Quezon City

Press Release
July 3, 2011

NTA distributes P20-M to tobacco farmers planting rice;
earmarks P200-M more for loans

CANDON, Ilocos Sur - The National Tobacco Administration (NTA), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), started distributing last Friday (July 1) over P20 million in production assistance to tobacco farmers all over the country to help them plant rice this wet season and contribute to the rice self-sufficiency program of the government.

NTA Administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza kicked off the distribution of checks to over 1,484 farmer co-operators in La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra and Mindoro who are scheduled to plant rice in over 1,242 hectares of land previously planted with tobacco.

He said that under the program, a farmer tilling one hectare of land will receive P18,000 in assistance from the NTA, which the agency will increase to P30,000 to P40,000 per hectare during the tobacco season.

He announced during a series of consultations with farmer-beneficiaries and farm technicians that the agency is prepared to give out some P200 million more in loans, with minimal interest rates, so that farmers can start planting rice immediately.

In the past, the amount of loans extended by NTA to farmers in the eight tobacco-producing provinces was only P3.5 million. This was increased to P34 million at the start of this year, but the budget was scarcely enough to finance farmers’ needs.

“We understand that in order to be more productive, viable, and relevant, tobacco farmers have to participate in all facets of production, training, and marketing. Di bale nang malugi ang NTA sa pagtulong sa magsasaka, basta’t magsasaka pa rin ang makikinabang (It doesn’t matter if NTA incurs losses in the process of helping the
farmers, for as long as the farmers themselves are benefited), ” Zaragoza said.

He hopes that the complementary planting of tobacco in summer, and rice during the wet season, will contribute to the efforts of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala for the country to attain rice self-sufficiency by 2013, and President Benigno S. Aquino III’s vision for food self-sufficiency by 2016.

Dr. Roberto R. Bonoan, NTA deputy administrator for operations, revealed that this year’s production assistance to tobacco farmers is 177% higher than that of last year, which was pegged at P7.6 million.

In terms of farmer beneficiaries, this year’s figure is 79% higher than that of last year’s 828 farmers, and 80.73% higher in land area compared to last year’s of 687 hectares, Bonoan said.

He also added that the inbred rice component of the agency’s Integrated Farming and Other Income-Generating Activities Project (IFOIGAP) produces an average yield of 5.2 metric tons of palay per hectare, with an expected volume of around 6,458 metric tons this year.

As this developed, the municipality of Laoac in Pangasinan became the first local government unit to enter into a financial counterparting agreement with NTA to support tobacco farmers.

Mayor Silverio D. Alarcio Jr. signed a memorandum of agreement where the fourth class municipality allocated a P240,000 fund to support 40 farmers planting rice this wet season. NTA will double the fund under the counterparting scheme.

“I feel that the NTA is sincere in addressing the plight of our tobacco farmers, and this is why I agreed to enter this agreement with them. I want to increase our participation to P1 million by next year,” Mayor Alarcio said.

Further, Zaragoza revealed that the country’s wholesale tobacco dealers (WTDs), composed of Philip Morris fortune Tobacco Corporation, Universal Leaf Philippines, Continental Leaf, Trans Manila Inc., and Associated Anglo-American Inc., have committed to support farmers by granting them loans to support their contract-growing services during the dry season.

He said tobacco farmers are getting special attention because they have a better reputation in repaying loans, at 90 to 95 percent, compared to the national average in loan collections for agriculture-related crops, which was placed at only 13 percent.# # # (DA-NTA)

Please refer to:

Administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza, cp no: 0917-5680232

Source: NTA distributes P20-M to tobacco farmers planting rice; earmarks P200-M more for loans
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