THE National Tobacco Administration (NTA) AgriPinoy Tobacco Farmers Food Processing and Trading Center in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur is set to formally start poultry dressing in the celebration of its first anniversary on October 31.

According to NTA AgriPinoy Operations Manager Minerva Mizal, the plant will dress up to 2,000 birds immediately after the launching and anniversary celebration. She said that the birds will come from the first harvest of the poultry farms of tobacco farmer-cooperators in Burgos, Ilocos Sur.

The food processing facility launched last year is a component of NTA’s Integrated Farming and Other Income Generating Activities Project (NTA-IFOIGAP), an intervention program that seeks to provide tobacco farmers with additional sources of income outside their regular trade.

NTA Administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza said that the agency has been training tobacco farmers in integrated farming systems which include hog and poultry raising. “To increase their earnings, they need to add value to their products, hence the need for the food processing center,” he added.

For the initial cycle of its poultry raising component, NTA made the dispersal or loading of chicks last October 4 for the first cluster of farmers in Burgos, Ilocos Sur. A cluster is given 2,500 chicks or 500 birds per farmer. The chicks have 28 to 33 days before harvesting.

The agency, through its multi-million food processing plant, buys the birds from farmer-cooperators at prevailing market price.  

The hog-fattening component of the project started middle of last year. From the harvest of the project’s first cycle last year, tobacco farmers earned as high as P43,000 income from hog fattening.

Now being processed at the Narvacan facility are popular pork products such as tocino, tapa, barbecue, bagnet, longganisa, and ham. The facility has been conferred with “AA” rating by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) last April.

Mizal said that after the launching, NTA AgriPinoy will start selling whole dressed chicken, including innards, feet and head, and processed chicken (yakitori and marinated) starting November. She assured a sufficient supply of chicken coming from the processing plant this coming holiday season.

Early this month, NTA launched NTA Pinoy Foods as label for its pork and poultry products. This coincided with the opening of its Meatshop at NTA Central Office in Scout Reyes Street cor. Panay Avenue in Quezon City.

“The mandate of the NTA really is to improve the quality of lives of tobacco farmers with additional livelihood project, so they will not be dependent on their crop alone,” said Zaragoza.

He said the agency will sustain livelihood program for the tobacco farmers with the help of the NTA AgriPinoy projects, not only to help them to boost their earning, but also to create job opportunities in the tobacco-growing areas.

To expand the program of the processing plant, Zaragoza said that construction is ongoing for the rice mill and feed mill to cater the rice and corn produced by the tobacco farmers. (Neyo Valdez, NTA)