Local tobacco growers reeling from the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic can expect better sales next year of their produce with Japan Tobacco International (Philippines) Inc. (JTI) studying the possibility of increasing its procurement of locally made tobacco from the current 4.6 million kilograms (kg) it has programmed to buy in 2021.
JTI said its planned purchase of 4.6 million kg of local tobacco leaf for next year represents an increase of 1 million kg from what it brought from farmers this year.
Its 2021 programmed purchases of local tobacco leaf make up a quarter of its estimated total leaf requirement for next year, JTI general manager John Freda said in his letter.
This volume is also well beyond the requirement provided under Republic Act 10351, which requires manufacturers or sellers of tobacco products to procure at least 15 percent of their tobacco leaf raw material requirements from locally grown sources.
JTI’s plan was in response to the joint request of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Agriculture Secretary William Dar for the cigarette manufacturer to help support local growers and raise revenues for tobacco-producing provinces affected by the pandemic-induced economic shock by hiking its purchases of locally produced tobacco leaf.
Dominguez and Dar said the strict quarantines imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 had constrained the marketing flow of food and other agricultural goods, including tobacco, which is among the most affected crops as it is a non-food commodity.