LUIS MIGUEL PÉREZ, GROUPED ASSOCIATIONS TAB
Ask cooperatives, organizations and institutions to fight together for the maintenance of tobacco cultivation
Luis Miguel Pérez has been working for decades as an administrative worker in the agrarian transformation society (SAT) Asociaciones Agrupadas Tab, based in Talayuela. We chatted with this 61-year-old from Jarandilla, a great connoisseur of the tobacco sector and one of the active workers who has been linked to the sector for the longest time.
Born in Jarandilla, he would be linked to the tobacco sector from a very young age…
Although my father was a butcher, the cultivation of tobacco was a very important help for the economy of the house. The family farm was small, but I had to help with all the work. In fact, I have been a tobacco grower until a few years ago.
At what age did you start working at Asociaciones Agrupadas Tab?
I started when I was 19 years old, in what was then called the Provincial Association of Tobacco Growers of Cáceres. At the beginning I had to do a little of everything, fill out the guides for the transport of tobacco with its corresponding policy, give the payment letters, which was one per item and once signed by the holder it was like a bearer check, be on the scale to control the weight of packages, etc.
What does your professional work consist of now?
It is focused on meeting all the needs that tobacco growers have to cultivate, advising them on issues of application and processing of the PAC, monitoring tobacco deliveries and many other issues. In addition, the association concentrates the production of all the partners and sells it to the first transformation companies. The association is Cetarsa’s largest supplier. We also have a warehouse for the sale and distribution of fertilizers, phytosanitary products, hardware and agricultural material, and for five years a gas station for our farmers.
How has the tobacco sector evolved?
I think it is the crop that has evolved the most in these years. Before, everything was done manually and with the help of animals and now it has become a highly mechanized crop, although it still generates a lot of labor. Tobacco growers have had to adapt to what the processing companies demand of them.
We always talk about the future of the sector, about the importance it has for the area. How do you see it?
The cultivation of tobacco is very important, since it increases and fixes the population due to the amount of labor it needs. There are many companies that are directly or indirectly linked to this crop, so from here I make a call to all the mayors of the tobacco areas, regardless of political party, agricultural organizations, cooperatives, processing companies and the Government of Extremadura to fight together in defense of this crop from which so many families live directly or indirectly and for which many young people have bet and mortgaged their future, instead of emigrating to other areas of Spain, thus avoiding leaving this land, which is in need of a population.
Given this situation, how important is the existence of a public company like Cetarsa?
I personally believe that Cetarsa has been and is crucial in the stability and maintenance of tobacco cultivation, without it this crop would have disappeared or at least the quantities that are grown now would not be maintained. The private companies Deltafina and Mella are also very important, as Taes, World-Wide and Agroexpansión were once, now defunct.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.