Tobacco output in the Philippines this year may not reach 50,000 tonnes because a decline in the demand for cigarettes caused growers to reduce their plantings, according to a Business Mirror story quoting the National Tobacco Administration (NTA).
The country reportedly produced 56,456.73 tonnes last year
But there were other reasons for the decline. The NTA Administrator Robert L. Seares said the shutdown of Mighty Corp., which used to buy about 6.5 million kg of low-grade tobacco, had also contributed to the decline in tobacco production this year. The tobacco interests of Mighty Corp. have since been acquired by Japan Tobacco.
And Mario E. Cabasal, president of the National Federation of Tobacco Farmers, Associations and Co-operatives, said the grading practices of some companies had discouraged farmers from planting tobacco.
“We do have floor prices [official minimum prices] for tobacco produce but grading them is a different matter,” he was quoted as saying. “Graders tend to downgrade the quality of the produce to buy it at a lower price.”
Cabasal said the floor price for tobacco of the highest grade, or ‘AA’ tobacco, was P81 per kg. “Most farmers get only ‘A’, which carries a lower price,” he said. “This prompts them to stop planting or to reduce the area devoted to tobacco.”
NTA figures indicate that the number of tobacco farmers declined to 43,625 last year from 46,531 in 2015, while the ‘tobacco harvest area’ fell by six percent to 30,648 ha.