MORE than 1,000 tobacco farmers and their dependents from northern Luzon are undergoing livelihood training courses for alternative source of income.
The National Tobacco Administration (NTA), through its livelihood assistance program, pre-selected a total of 1,100 trainees expected to complete the courses which started in batches this month until June next year.
The trainees are members of farmers’ cooperatives from different tobacco-growing municipalities in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan and Isabela.
“We implement livelihood activities to augment farmers’ income so they can support the basic needs of their families,” NTA Administrator Robert Seares said.
The four training courses, spearheaded by the NTA Farm Technology and Services Department (FTSD), are sari-sari store or rolling store management; agro-mechanic; noodle, bread and pastry production; and food processing.
FTSD Manager Imelda Riñen said that after the training, the participants can avail of the NTA livelihood assistance package to help them start their own businesses.
NTA has invited resource persons from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, as well as state universities and colleges in the province where the training is held.
NTA-FTSD, in coordination with the Candon City branch office in Ilocos Sur, started the first training course – sari-sari store or rolling store management on November 8 and 9 for 47 trainees from different municipalities in Ilocos Sur’s second district. Tapped as resource person was Lorma Castro, accredited TESDA trainer from Tagudin, Ilocos Sur.
Other provincial branches will host training on rolling store management in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan on November 23 and 24; Rosales, Pangasinan on November 27 and 28; while the branches in La Union, Abra and Vigan City will conduct trainings on separate schedules in December.
The livelihood assistance program is in line with the agency’s thrust through its Farmers Organizational Development Program to provide continuous education to the tobacco farmers and their dependents through training support and livelihood assistance.
FTSD also conducted livelihood training on food business, agri-business, crafts, as well as health and wellness to 1,234 members of farmers’ cooperatives, particularly the tobacco farming families, in 2014.
NEIL A. ALCOBER