Philippines Aims to Double Production of Quality Tobacco Leaves
MANILA, Jan 16 Asia Pulse - The National Tobacco Administration (NTA) will start in July this year a nationwide campaign to double Philippine production of quality tobacco leaves during the 2006-2007 planting season.
"We hope to increase the country's overall production of tobacco leaves to about 80 million kilos," said Rex Teoxon, NTA plans and programs department manager.
Teoxon said the agency hopes to capture about 80 per cent of local demand for the produce.
He said the campaign will consist of farmers technology training so more people can grow quality tobacco leaves which are free from saltiness, scalding and other bad conditions.
Currently, Teoxon said only 10 to 15 per cent of some 65,000 registered tobacco farmers nationwide are knowledgeable about undertaking such task.
"The campaign will also include in-process planting demonstrations to complement our lectures on planting theories," he said.
Authorities are optimistic training farmers will enable them to plant the crop in about 42,000 hectares of registered tobacco land nationwide.
"Only about half of this area is now planted with quality tobacco because many farmers lack the technical knowledge to do so," Teoxon said.
He explained NTA will begin its campaign in July so farmers can plant tobacco seeds in September and begin transferring seedlings to fields 45 days later.
"This schedule will enable them to harvest the leaves from December 2006 to February next year," he said.
Teoxon said NTA decided to mount the campaign since the estimated current local tobacco leaf production of 36 million to 40 million kilos is insufficient to meet cigarette manufacturers growing demand for the produce.
Based on NTA's estimate that 1,000 cigarette sticks can be manufactured using one kilo of tobacco leaves, current industry output can only produce enough for local production of 36 billion to 40 billion cigarette sticks.
"This is low since actual domestic cigarette production already increased from 80 billion to 107 billion sticks in 2004 alone," he said.
Aside from meeting domestic demand, NTA also sees increased production as helping bring buying prices of such produce to levels that will be fair for both farmers and manufacturers.
Teoxon said manufacturers are already complaining about soaring cost of tobacco since its national average buying price across all grades is now about P52 per kilo.
"Flavour-type leaves even fetch up to P75 per kilo even if floor price of grade AA leaves is only P47 per kilo," he added.