Lenten season (tobacco syndrome) myth broken

CANDON CITY, Ilocos Sur- The Lenten season is always a nightmare to tobacco growers. Like Jesus Christ they suffer. They feel the whip of the crashing of tobacco prices after the Lenten break which they even dubbed as tobacco syndrome. The tobacco prices are cut as low as half.

This year the ‘sufferings’ or tobacco syndromes are gone. Thanks to the steady demand of tobacco from the tobacco companies.

“This is the best year of tobacco so far,” Tobacco buyer David Wagayen said.

Wagayen, a 17-year tobacco buyer, said that the trading centers’ continuous demand for tobacco is keeping the prices intact.

The week long Lenten break was always the signal of downfall of prices of tobacco. Tobacco traders usually have met their quota for the cigarette companies and cut down the prices to half.

The quality of tobacco also decline because the available green leaves are those at the middle or top stalks which are lesser in quality.

Wagayen said that his highest purchase for top grade tobacco ( Grade AA) this year reached P100 per kilo with the lowest at 60 for the reject grade. The prices are staggering compared to the floor prices being applied this tobacco season as agreed during the tripartite conference between and among tobacco farmers (farmers’ sector), the cigarette manufacturers (buyers’ sector) and the NTA in 2007.

The floor price of flue-cured Virginia tobacco are the following:

Grades AA – P61.00; A – P59.00 ; B – P57.00; C – P55.00; D – P50.00; E – P49.00; F1 – P45.00; F2 – P42.00; and R – P23.00.

According to Wagayen, most of the tobacco traders have not met their quota and did not lower down their buying prices.

Wagayen whose given quota is 50 truck loads or about 500 tons is still short of at least 15 truck loads. He said he is willing to even increase his prices in order to meet his quota.

“The tobacco farmers are really the biggest benefactor this year,” Wagayen said.

Efraim Dayap, Supervisor of NTA-Candon branch, said that they were also surprise with the steady prices.

“This is very rare that the prices remain steady,” Dayap said.

He said that the quality of tobacco dictates the prices this season.