The Wong Chu King Foundation (WCKF) has granted full college scholarships to 200 students in Northern Luzon to raise the “next generation” of tobacco farmers who will improve the quality and yield of the local crop.
“Our scholars are children and dependents of the tobacco farmers. They are going to take agriculture-related courses so they can help infuse the much-needed boost to the local tobacco industry. They are the next generation of tobacco growers who will make our tobacco variety world-class in quality,” said James Navarette, WCKF general manager.
The scholarship project is part of the three-pronged multimillion-peso assistance program to benefit and uplift the lives of 65,000 tobacco farmers in Cagayan Valley and Ilocos Region.
“We thank the Wong Chu King family and WCKF for giving these blessings to us. This is an original Christian act,” said Fr. Victor de Guzman, a representative of San Fernando, La Union Bishop Rodolfo Fontiveros Beltran, of the scholarship grants. “It is a perfect Christian community because everybody cares and everybody fulfils the needs of the poor in society.”
Kabataan Party List Rep. Terry Ridon, who attended the awarding rites for the scholarship grants, lauded WCKF for taking on the task of improving the lives of tobacco growers by educating their children and dependents.
“WCKF’s scholarship grants will not only help the tobacco farming communities but the industry as well,” he said, adding that Congress is committed to helping the tobacco industry grow.
In the first phase of its program, WCKF distributed 35 irrigation pumps to some 35 farmer associations, 10 mini-tractors in tobacco-growing provinces, and tools and farm implements to help tobacco growers increase their tobacco harvest.
Navarette said the agricultural assistance would serve as common-service production equipment to groups of organized tobacco farmers working in tobacco farms that have no access to irrigation facilities and small tractors.
The third component of the program will be undertaken in tandem with the National Tobacco Administration for the annual search for outstanding tobacco farmers. The search will cover three categories: Virginia tobacco growers, burley tobacco farmers and native tobacco producers.
WCKF, led by its president and chairman of the board of trustees Nelia Dy Wong Chu King, also helps the poor and underprivileged sectors with their nutrition, education and livelihood needs. The foundation was established in memory of Emmanuel Wong Chu King, philanthropist and patriarch of the Wong Chu King family.