Virginia tobacco growers in the North of the Philippines are concerned about a fall in leaf prices that has occurred, and about what they see as a lack of government support for their industry, according to a story in The Manila Bulletin.
“I did not plant Virginia tobacco anymore on my more than 10 ha this season due to very poor prices for the last two years,” Mayor Josefino Miranda, a tobacco farmer for more than 40 years, was quoted as saying.
Miranda said that because of government neglect, tobacco farmers had been deprived of their income and livelihood.
Farmers in Santiago (Ilocos Sur Province) interviewed by the Manila Bulletin claimed that about 20 percent of the land area in the town had not been planted this year with flue-cured tobacco because of concerns about low prices. This year, farmers were said to have shifted to corn.
However, Miranda added that half of the land in the eastern part of the town was planted to tobacco this year. “There are still farmers who planted tobacco along the Eastern side of our town, hoping there will be good prices this year,” he said.
Meanwhile, tobacco growers are opposed to a proposal that is calling for a unitary tax rate of P30 on all cigarette packs, regardless of price. They believe the proposal is anti-tobacco and warn that it would probably kill the domestic leaf tobacco industry.
Mario Cabasal, who, as president of the National Federation of Tobacco Farmers Association and Co-operatives, represents the 55,000 tobacco farmers nationwide, told the Bulletin that if the unitary tax were implemented, demand for the sorts of low-grade tobacco being produced locally would vanish because cigarette manufacturers would probably cease to produce local-class products.