1,246 tobacco farmers target 8M seedlings

LAOAG CITY, August 8 – Aside from producing Virginia and native tobacco leaves, tobacco farmers have earned extra income from growing of assorted seedlings for the massive tree planting projects of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) located in various planting sites.

The contract- growing of seedlings is in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through the on-going National Greening Program (NGP) of the Aquino administration and the “Kahuyang Pangkabuhayan at Pangkalikasan”(KPP) program.

It is part of the NTA’s Renewable Fuelwood Energy Farm Development Project and Restoration of Ecological Integrity (RFEFDPREI) which seeks to plant eight million tree seedlings and bamboos until 2015 in some 5,000 hectares located in Regions 1, 2 and Cordillera Administrative Region including Occidental Mindoro and Rizal provinces.

Mario Cabasal, the head of the National Federation of Tobacco Farmers and Cooperatives Inc. (NAFTAC), said tobacco farmers were tapped by the NTA through contract growing system in the production of seedlings for the massive tree planting.

“The NTA had given the materials and labor cost assistance to the 1,246 tobacco farmer co-operators. The counterparts of the cooperator are the nursery site and planting areas. Seedlings are then valued by thNTA for payment to farmer–cooperators,” Cabasal said.

Seedlings produced are giant ipil-ipil, neem tree, gmelina, mahogany, kakawate and bamboo.

NTA Administrator Edgar Zaragoza said a farmer–cooperator earns a maximum income of P100,000.

Zaragoza led the synchronized tree planting last July 30 at the Narvacan North Central School in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur.

“I wish to encourage more tobacco farmers to venture in the seedling-production for our renewable project as this would give them another livelihood,” Zaragoza said.
He said tobacco farmer-cooperators will also earn income from the sale of fuel woods which they will harvest in three years planting. (MCA/FGL, PIA – 1 Ilocos Norte)