FARMERS in Pangasinan and the Ilocos provinces have expressed relief that their tobacco leaves will have a sure market this year.
Expressing relief was Mario Cabasal, president of the National Federation of Tobacco Growers and Cooperatives (NFTGC) after learning that Mighty Corp has made commitments to initially buy at least 10 million kilograms of tobacco leaves at an average price of P70 per kilo and buy all the excess tobacco leaves that farmers could not sell to other buyers.
“We limited to minimum areas fields planted to tobacco last year in anticipation of depressed demand due to the scheduled implementation of the sin tax,” Cabasal said. “good thing, some farmers were able to sell part of their low-grade harvests to Mighty Corporation in 2013,” he pointed out.
“Now that we are assured of an alternative market, besides other tobacco companies, our members will again be inspired to devote larger areas to the cultivation of Ilocandia’s most important cash crop,” he said.
Fearing that tobacco prices and demand for the yellow leaf would dive as a result of the new excise tax law on cigarettes, many farmers in the Ilocos Region shifted to planting yellow corn, the only other cash crop that thrives in dry land where rainfall is scarce during the summer months. Profits from corn are, however, lower than tobacco.
Planting of the golden leaf started last month and selling the dry leaf often peaks just before the Holy Week.
“With Mighty’s assurance that the company will buy all the unsold tobacco harvested by farmers, we can also be sure that unlike in the past, prices will stay high even after the holiday season. Price cut downs on harvests after the Holy Week was an old practice of middlemen from Ilocos Norte to Pangasinan.