NTA helps tobacco farmers shift to cattle growing

BAGUIO CITY — Tobacco farmers are branching out to become cattle growers.

A new initiative taken to increase the income of farmers, the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) pitched the Beef Cattle Production Assistance Project allocating P10 million from the Tobacco Farmers Production Assistance or Investment Outlay for 2020, under its Integrated Farming and Other Income Generating Activities Project.

A select group of tobacco growers in Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Isabela and Cagayan will receive this November 250 ready-to-breed upgraded Brahman heifers for the project, NTA Administrator Robert Victor Seares Jr. said.

Seares said the initiative “will help jump-start the beef cattle industry in the tobacco growing provinces and will also forward the vision of the Department of Agriculture for advancing food sufficiency in the country.”

To prepare the tobacco farmers, an online training was held on October 26 by the NTA Office of the Deputy Administrator for Operations under Dr. Roberto Bonoan.

Beef cattle production is one of the livelihood components of the agency’s five-year industry development plan, or the Sustainable Tobacco Enhancement Program, to increase productivity and farmers’ income, Bonuan explained.

The new initiative started during the term of the late Administrator Robert L. Seares, the current NTA administrator’s father, “as a production and marketing intervention for the tobacco farmers.”

NTA already has an established production and marketing intervention for the tobacco farmers through the NTA Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita (formerly AgriPinoy Projects), with its value-adding component, the Tobacco Farmers Food Processing and Trading Center; and livelihood programs, such as Rice Production during tobacco off-season, the Gulayan at Manukan sa Barangay, Vegetable Seeds Distribution, and Kahuyang Pangkabuhayan at Pangkalikasan.

According to the project guidelines, prospective farmer-cooperators must be registered tobacco farmers with the NTA and under the Registry System for the Basic Sector in Agriculture and Fisheries.  They must be willing to undergo cattle production training, and have the capability to provide cattle shed housing and equipment, labor, adequate grazing area, supplementary feed, and clean water source. As an initial step, the project implementers will conduct training/seminar to the farmer cooperators on cattle production, including grazing land development and organic feed production.

Other essential components of the project include production technology package, artificial insemination services, and technical support services/animal health services.

Production assistance shall be repaid with two 12-month-old cows, the first and third offspring, within a maximum period of six years.  The first offspring is the repayment which is to be loaned out immediately to next-in-line or downline farmer-cooperator, and the third offspring for the second repayment, to be sold out as income of the NTA to recover investment. ●