Piñol said the company was looking at Mindanao for expansion because of its favorable conditions.
Unlike in Luzon, where the conditions made tobacco farming viable only once a year, Mindanao’s conditions would allow tobacco farming all year round.
Piñol said PMFTC, an affiliate of Philip Morris International, had concluded a visual inspection over the weekend of a 5,000 ha property in North Cotabato, which was previously a banana plantation owned by Sumitomo Fruits.
Asked about the initial feedback from PMFTC, Piñol said: “I heard it looks okay, but I have not received an official report from them”.
Sought for comment, the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza said the NTA welcomed such developments but they had yet to receive details of PMFTC’s plan.
“They’re still eyeing [areas] and they keep looking for areas but they haven’t informed us yet,” he said. “Sometimes they just inform us when they’re about to start.”
Should an expansion project go ahead, it could mean a monthly income of around P60,000 for each farmer, Piñol said, citing the PMFTC team’s estimates.
Aside from North Cotabato, tobacco-growing provinces in Mindanao include Zamboanga del Sur, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Maguindanao.