The Department of Agriculture (DA) recently inaugurated a P165-million food processing and trading center in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, aimed at improving economic conditions of tobacco farmers in the northern provinces of the Philippines.
Dubbed as the NTA Agri-Pinoy Tobacco Farmers Food Processing and Trading Center, the project is part of the commitment of the National Tobacco Administration to uplift the quality of life of tobacco farmers, by responding to the marketing needs of farmers by eliminating layers of middlemen both in buying agricultural inputs and in selling their products.
The Agri-Pinoy Food Processing Center will start production of meat products such as bagnet, longganisa, zesty bacon, ham, barbecue, tapa and tocino sold at bagsakan centers, food terminals, government offices and hospitals, commissaries and supermarkets.
The facility—strategically located along the national highway of Barangay Nanguneg East, Narvacan in Ilocos Sur—includes an abbatoir with daily capacity of 200 heads, and a chicken dressing plant with a 200 head per hour capacity, both of which are operational.
Undersecretary Emerson Palad said that the DA will continue to provide assistance including raw materials for processing.
He also said that the DA-Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) will assist in the distribution of products in the Ilocos Region and in Metro Manila.
NTA Administrator Edgardo Zaragoza said that besides the P165-million construction capital allotted for the food-processing facilities, buildings and equipment, another P35 million is allocated as working capital.
While Ilocos Sur in Region I and Abra in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) will serve as a priority area for raw material sourcing in the immediate period, expansion will cover the provinces of Ilocos Norte, La Union and Pangasinan, and Cagayan Valley in the future, Zaragoza added.
As the project targets to assist 7,693 tobacco farmers in its first year of operation, farmers’ training and assistance for various hog fattening and production activities have started in June this year.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, who was the guest speaker during the inauguration of the food processing and trading center, stressed that the Agri-Pinoy Center will provide opportunities not only for the tobacco farmers but for their children as well, by encouraging the younger generations to get involved in farming, side-by-side with their parents.