Tomato Contract Growing

The incredible part of this is that you can plant without having to worry about where to acquire the capital you need. Just give the ISTPP the assurance that you will sell them your harvest, and you can avail yourself of their financial assistance with a zero interest rate.

Engr. Felipe Mateo, the general manager of ISTPP, said that they can lend up to P45,000 for every hectare planted with tomatoes. The process goes this way:  first, farmers should go to the plant and express their interest to avail themselves of ISTPP’s offered financial assistance. Their names and the land area they intend to plant to tomatoes will be included on the list of grantees after they show the ISTPP the land title and certification coming from their barangay captain to prove that they are legitimate farmers and that they own the property. In case the farmer is a tenant, s/he should secure an authorization letter from the landowner authorizing the farmer to enter into the agreement with the ISTPP.

When the tomato season comes, ISTPP will provide farmers with the tomato seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides to be used. They will also grant the amount needed for irrigating the tomato plants, paying the wages of the farm helpers, and for other budgetary requirements, from sowing to harvesting.

After collecting and weighing the entire harvest, ISTPP will calculate the total payment for your crop, then the sum you obtained from them will be deducted from your total payment. The difference will be your profit. Farmers need not worry about late payments as it only takes few days to process the disbursement for their harvest.

Engr. Mateo also explained that a farmer is entitled to an additional 20 centavos incentive per kilo if his or her yield per hectare is higher than the average of 40 tons, making the purchase price P 2.70/kilo. If the yield is 50 tons or higher, a farmer is again entitled to another 20 centavos in every kilo, meaning, ISTPP will pay ? 2.90/kilo. These incentives, according to the general manager, are their way of encouraging farmers to give their best and to keep them from selling their crops to middlemen who may offer higher prices.

Farm managers/technicians will be designated for every town. They will be responsible for field monitoring and making sure that the farmers are following the technologies the company introduced. This way, the plant is assured that the tomatoes produced are of high quality.

What is the ISTPP?

The Ilocos Sur Tomato Paste Plant was established in 1998 by the provincial government of  Ilocos Sur using funds coming from the Tobacco Excise Tax Law, also known as Republic Act 7171. It aims to persuade farmers who are planting tobacco in identified salty areas to plant tomatoes instead to prevent the production of low quality tobacco leaves. The plant will serve as, ready market for farmers’ tomato harvest and ensures they will not need to go to other provinces to sell their crops.

After a year of operation, NS International Inc., which supplied all the machinery and equipment of the plant, turned over the ISTPP to the provincial government, which then took over the plant’s operations. But poor supervision and maintenance resulted in the wearing out of the machines and equipment, delaying its operations. The tomatoes delivered then were not processed, and the plant was not able to sell tomato paste to its clients. As a result, the farmers never received the payment for their harvests, and this discouraged them from planting tomatoes.

But Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson did not give up on the project. He talked to the Italian supplier, Nuccio Saverio of the NS International Inc., and they agreed to re-open the ISTPP by way of joint venture. Gov. Singson allocated? 55 million while Saverio gave P45 million for a total of? 100 million to rehabilitate the plant. Their agreement was that fifty-five percent of the total profit would go to the provincial government while forty five percent of the profits would be the share of NS International Inc.

Defective parts of machines and equipments were sent to Italy for repairs, and broken parts were replaced with new ones. After several months of rehabilitation, the tomato paste plant reopened its doors to Ilocano farmers on April 7, 2011.

Before its formal re-opening, some 240 hectares of land were will be channelled to the sorting area where several workers will be stationed to check whether there are still unripe or rotten tomatoes among the mature fruit. The fruit will then be directed to the chopper to separate the fruit from its skin and seeds. The squeezed juice will then go to a tank to be cooked. Afterwards, it will be deposited in an evaporator before the processed fruit is placed in the bagging system and sealed in containers that can hold up to 220 kilos.

Technicians will get samples every 2 hours of production to check on the quality of the tomato paste produced. If they see that the final product is of low quality, they will put it back in the tank and cooked again. This way, delivery of low class tomato paste to clients is avoided while no product is wasted.

author: Mancielito S. Tacadena, extracted from www.trc.dost.gov.ph, photo from akoaypilipino.eu

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