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Tobacco growers start integrated rice farming

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines  — The government has released P50 million to tobacco growers to start their integrated rice farming as part of efforts to further boost supply of the country’s main staple.

The National Tobacco Administration (NTA) has released P49.5 million worth of rice production assistance under its integrated farming and other income-generating activities program in line with the Rice Resiliency Project of the Department of Agriculture.

Benefiting from NTA’s initiative are 3,537 tobacco-rice farmers of major tobacco-producing areas in the Ilocos provinces, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Cagayan, and Isabela.

NTA officer-in-charge administrator Roberto Bonoan said the agency implemented the inbred rice production in rainfed areas, with tobacco as preceding crop, to augment the income of tobacco-rice farmers. This is seen to increase their yield to at least 5,000 kilograms per hectare.

The rice production assistance of P25,000 per hectare with 40 percent subsidy will cover the purchase of certified seeds, tractor or animal rental for land preparation, fuel for irrigation, and fertilizers.

Bonoan said NTA has increased the program coverage from 2,371 hectares to 2,829 hectares this crop year, benefitting an additional 533 farmers.

“We have a high yield and productivity in our rice production program, since we started implementing the tobacco off-season project and we expect to sustain our efficiency and boost production in support of DA’s food sufficiency drive,” he said.

The agency’s extension workers, who are also equipped with technical know-how on rice production, provide the farmers technical and marketing assistance.

To ensure a ready market for their harvest, NTA has made an arrangement with the National Food Authority in the locality to be the market outlet.

Apart from the expanded rice production, other NTA interventions for tobacco-rice farmers during the pandemic include the P13.5 million emergency cash assistance to 6,668 tobacco contract growers, the P10-million Gulayan at Manukan sa Barangay project, and the distribution of free vegetable seeds worth P3.3 million to registered tobacco growers.

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