Ilocos town wants to expand tobacco farming
PIDDIG, Ilocos Norte—Universal Leaf Philippines Inc. (ULPI), the biggest tobacco growing and processing company in the country, has expressed interest in developing 1,000 hectares of land here in partnership with local farmers.
Piddig, a third class town (pop: 20,600 as of 2010), is known for its Basi Revolt led by a native, Pedro Mateo.
During exploratory talks with ULPI representatives on June 7, Piddig Mayor Eduardo Guillen said the town has 100 hectares planted to tobacco.
“We are aiming for food sufficiency in Piddig. Right now, we have 4,000 hectares (ha) planted with rice during the wet season and 1,000 ha during the dry season. We can spare 3,000 ha for crops [like corn, mung beans and tobacco] which need less irrigation,” said Guillen.
Piddig’s tobacco plantation entitles the town to an additional revenue of P33 million annually representing its share in the tobacco excise tax under Republic Act No. 7171, the law granting benefits to farmers in towns and provinces that produce Virginia tobacco.
Under this law, local governments, which produce Virginia tobacco, are entitled to 15 percent of national tax collections.
Farmers here earn an average income of P50,000 to P70,000 per hectare from raising tobacco.
The proposed tobacco farms eyed by ULPI are in the villages of Sucsuquen, Tanggawan, Sta. Maria, Abucay and Estancia. Once an agreement is finalized, ULPI would put up its own buying station in the town.
Piddig is the first among Ilocos Norte’s 22 towns and two cities to embrace a consolidated farming system. To date, 200 farmers have merged their farms in Estancia village where they planted hybrid rice.
Piddig has also established 1,200 ha of upland and lowland coffee plantations as part of a consolidated project tied with the Rocky Mountain Arabica Coffee Co. (RMACC), a leading producer and exporter of Arabica coffee in the country. These plantations raised high grade Arabica, Excelsa and Liberica. Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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