• April 24, 2024

Philippines Ag Dept. Supports Intercropping

 Philippines Ag Dept. Supports Intercropping

Image: Yü Lan

Image: Yü Lan

The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture (DA) and local government units in tobacco producing areas are urging intercropping on tobacco fields to give farmers extra income and to make up for lost markets caused by smoking concerns, according to the Philippine News Agency.

High-value crops, such as rice, corn, garlic, onions, tomatoes and bamboo, can be planted alongside tobacco to help expand farmer income, according to DA Undersecretary Deogracias Victor Savellano. Intercropping will also help contribute to the Philippines’ food security.

Despite changing views toward smoking and tobacco, Savellano stated that the Department of Agriculture along with the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) must sustain the domestic tobacco industry as it affects about 2.2 million Filipinos and their livelihoods.

The domestic tobacco market generates billions in excise taxes annually, much of which funds the universal healthcare program.

“The government cannot allow the tobacco industry to sunset despite changes in consumers’ attitude toward cigarettes. However, we are now focusing on the export market … to make up for any decline in revenues generated domestically,” Savellano explained.

The NTA is pressing for more strict government responses to smuggling and other illicit tobacco activity. According to Robert Ambros, NTA regulatory head, government revenue loss due to illicit tobacco trade is estimated to be over PHP30 billion ($528.2 million) by the end of 2023.

“These past years, we had seen so much change in our health policies that affected the tobacco industry,” said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in an August speech delivered on his behalf by his nephew, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Manotoc. “As such, we must seek ways to protect the livelihood of thousands of our tobacco farmers.”