Manila Bulletin

JTI may buy more local tobacco leaves in 2021


Cigarette-maker Japan Tobacco Internatio­nal (Philippine­s), Inc. (JTI) may further increase its procuremen­t of locally produced tobacco next year to support famers reeling from the economic impact of the pandemic.

In a letter to the Department of Finance (DOF), John Freda, JTI general manager, said the company is studying the possibilit­y of hiking its earlier 2021 programmed procuremen­t of locally produced tobacco of 4.6 million kilograms.

For this year alone, JTI already raised its procuremen­t program by one million kilograms, Freda said in his letter to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.

Under Republic Act No. 10351, cigarette manufactur­ers or sellers are required to buy at least 15 percent of their tobacco leaf raw material requiremen­ts from locally grown sources.

Freda said JTI buys more than 15 percent of its tobacco leaf raw materials from Filipino farmers. JTI’s plan was in response to the joint request of the DOF and Department of Agricultur­e for the cigarette firms to help support local growers and raise revenues for tobacco-producing provinces.

Earlier, Dominguez and Agricultur­e Secretary William Dar asked cigarette companies to increase their purchases of locally produced tobacco leaf.

In their letter, Dominguez and Dar pointed out that the strict quarantine­s imposed to curb the spread of COVID19 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.

According to Dominguez and Dar, 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.

“Your kind assistance will translate into realized income to farmers, which assures food on their table and revenues for local government units (LGUs),” they said in their letter addressed to JTI.

In response, JTI said its local team is coordinati­ng with the company’s global leaf supply chain to “explore the possibilit­y of further increasing our local leaf tobacco purchases next year and in the coming years.”

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