CARP seen unsustainable without support services

AGRARIAN REFORM beneficiaries (ARBs) need support services to sustain them and keep them productive after they have been awarded land, a senior legislator said.

“The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) without adequate support services and with limited capital or entrepreneurship among farmer-beneficiaries, is shown to have reduced agricultural productivity in CARP lands by as much as 34.1%,” Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda said at a hearing of the committee on agrarian reform on Wednesday.

Mr. Salceda said the agriculture industry foregoes about P418 billion a year in gross value added due to the absence of support, access to capital, and capacity among ARBs under CARP.

On Tuesday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. signed an executive order imposing a one-year moratorium on payments of amortization and interest on loans to ARBS.

Mr. Salceda said condonation of ARB debt could result in an increase in productivity of between 23.8% and 38.3%, as land is allocated more efficiently and more interventions to boost production become available.

He proposed the distribution of 52,000 hectares of public agricultural land that Mr. Marcos earlier promised to grant to landless farmers during his State of the Nation Address.

Mr. Salceda also called for the revival of the Samahang Nayon and Kilusang Bayan programs as authorized by Presidential Decree No. 175.

“The best way to guarantee productivity for the newly emancipated and newly granted land is to make sure that the support ecosystem exists for their farmers-owners. That is the kind of support that Samahang Nayon and Kilusang Bayan programs can provide,” he said.

“Naturally contiguous or proximate land should be organized under ‘farmer association areas or farmer cooperative areas with an assigned agribusiness management consultant,” he added.

He also recommended that new beneficiaries sign up for the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture to ensure that they receive benefits under various Department of Agriculture programs, especially high-yielding seed.

He also backed types of irrigation more suited to crops other than rice.

“Solar-powered irrigation pumps with drip irrigation devices appear to be the most energy-efficient iteration of such irrigation systems,” he added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson