By: Freddie G. Lazaro, PIA, Ilocos Norte
LAOAG CITY – The National Tobacco Administration targets to plant at least 1.5 million tree seedlings in tobacco-producing provinces to answer for the fuelwood needed in curing tobacco leaves.
The tree seedlings, composed of giant ipil-ipil, gmelina and mahogany, will be planted simultaneously on July 25 in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
Administrator Edgar D. Zaragoza said the tree planting program, which began in 2013, seeks to address the fuelwood and other forest resources requirement of tobacco farmers in curing Virginia and other types of tobacco. The program also assists in the reforestation of the tobacco growing regions.
The project, called renewable fuelwood energy farm project and restoration of ecological Integrity of tobacco growing regions, is part of the NTA’s 27th founding anniversary.
Studies on the tobacco industry showed that the lack of fuelwood in curing tobacco leaves was more of a concern than smoking.
The 1.5 tree seedlings will be planted in 1,600 hectares of public land in selected tobacco-growing areas.
The NTA AgriPinoy Tobacco Farmers Food Processing Plant and Trading Center in Barangay Nanguneg in Narvacan town was identified as planting site.
“Our tree planting program is part of our commitments to sustain our ecological balance in anticipation of the possible effect of climate change,” Zaragoza said.
The seedlings are sourced from the seedling nursery and fuelwood and bamboo farms managed by NTA-assisted farmers’ groups.
“This is our way of returning the favor to our farmer cooperators by providing them with sources of income through seedling production and planting of trees for fuel wood purposes,” Zaragoza added.
The agency pegged its target at 6 million tree seedlings to be planted in 2,500 hectares in tobacco-growing areas or twice higher than last year’s 3.2 million seedlings planted in 1,357 hectares. #