Japan Tobacco International (Philippines) Inc. plans to increase the procurement of locally-produced tobacco from 4.6 million kilograms it programmed to buy in 2021 to support local growers reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
JTI said in a letter jointly addressed to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Agriculture Secretary William Dar that it planned to purchase 4.6 million kg of local tobacco leaf for 2021, representing an increase of 1 million kg from what it would buy 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 the letter.
The volume is also beyond the requirement provided under Republic Act No. 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 said the plan was in response to the joint request of Dominguez and 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 pointed out that 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.
A study has shown that “only 30 percent of the total local tobacco production are bought from the farmers while the rest are imported” by cigarette companies.