Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III is now closely coordinating with state colleges and universities (SUCs) that offer agriculture courses to look for graduate-recipients of a three-hectare farm lot each in a bid to produce “a new breed of farmers equipped with scientific knowledge that can adjust, and be creative and innovative.”
Amid the threat of a shortage of farmers, he vowed to bring back the good old days when DAR was giving out all the kinds of support services to corn and rice farmers in the implementation of Presidential Decree No. 27 of 1972 or Decreeing the Emancipation of Tenant from the Bondage of the Soil, Transferring to Them the Ownership of the Land They Till and Providing the Instruments and Mechanism Therefor.
“We will heavily invest in the support services for the farmer-beneficiaries (under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program), just like what happened when my grandfather was then the agency secretary as well as under the administration of the father of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” he told the media.
“Time has gone by. The support services now are not enough to make the agrarian reform beneficiaries till the land,” he lamented.
The program is retroactive to include those who have graduated even years ago as beneficiaries, he noted.
“Yes, they are qualified of receiving not more than three hectares of agricultural lot. Since there will be no more permanent mortgage of land, the property will become their assets that can be turned into a negotiable instrument,” the Department of Agrarian Reform chief said.
“There is a lack of information drive here. The moment I am done with all that I need to finish, I will not be an armchair officer but I will bring government closer to the farmers,” he added, referring to the lack of knowledge of many farmers about DAR’s program.
Under Executive Order No. 75, DAR is mandated to identify government-owned lands, including SUCs, devoted to or suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified beneficiaries, Estrella cited.
“There are over 56,000 hectares of land that have yet to be distributed, while we are still validating other 126,000 hectares,” he said.
Those to benefit from the distribution of GOLs are retired personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, rebel returnees and degree holders of an agriculture course, he added.