agriculture and fisheries

Ilocos tobacco farmers affected by ‘freak rains’ to get P100-M cash aid

John Michael Mugas
Ilocos tobacco farmers affected by ‘freak rains’ to get P100-M cash aid

LOSSES. At least 15,300 tobacco farmers in the Ilocos region were affected by the floods caused by the off-season rains in January.

Alyansa ti Mannalon ti Ilocos Norte

Agriculture Secretary William Dar approves the National Tobacco Administration's request for P50-million funding to assist farmers, supplementing the P50 million set aside in 2021

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – The government has set aside at least P100 million in emergency cash assistance for tobacco growers affected by flooding due to “freak rains” in January 2022.

In a statement on Thursday, March 3, the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) said Agriculture Secretary William Dar approved the agency’s request for P50-million funding to assist farmers in the Ilocos region. The approved fund will supplement the P50 million set aside in 2021, it added.

NTA Administrator Robert Victor Seares Jr. said that the agency’s existing funds were not enough to cover all affected farmers considering the extent of damage.

In its latest estimate, the NTA said off-season rains in January damaged at least P505 million worth of tobacco produce across 5,304 hectares in major tobacco-growing provinces like Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, and Abra.

At least 15,300 farmers were affected by the floods, the NTA added. 

Seares said that the financial assistance will be handed to the farmers “as soon as the funds and the implementing guidelines are released.”

He said that NTA has an “absolute commitment to helping and supporting them in their farming endeavor.”

In February, tobacco farmers, led by the National Federation of Tobacco Farmers Association and Cooperatives, in the Ilocos urged local governments to provide immediate relief and livelihood support for farmers affected by the freak rains.

Many of them raised concerns over not having enough yield to break even and pay their debts, the group said. –Rappler.com

John Michael Mugas is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.