To extend or not extend

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Friday, June 13, 2014


TO EXTEND or not to extend, that is the question. Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. recently called on members of Congress not to extend the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program again, saying it has failed to uplift the lives of many of its beneficiaries and has been very detrimental to agriculture in the country.

It is about time land reform is stopped and government concentrates on providing support services to those already provided with land, said Governor Marañon. Few land reform beneficiaries have progressed because of Carp, and many have already leased or sold the land given to them, he added.

Kusog Obrero Negros, supposedly a province-wide organization of agricultural workers, echoed Gov. Marañón. “CARP has failed to alleviate the economic condition of the rural poor,” insisted Eric Araneta, spokesperson of the group. Government should stop land distribution and focus on support services for Carp beneficiaries, he said.

I can agree on some of the Kusog-Obrero and the Governor’s call for the non-extension of Carper, especially among agrarian reform beneficiaries in Negros Occidental’s sugarcane monocultures.

Lanie Factor, deputy national coordinator of Task Force Mapalad, agrees that “The implementation and the lack of support services for agrarian reform beneficiaries are the problems” but disagrees that Carp is even a problem.

Even Dr. Raúl Fabella’s critique of “Carp: Time to Let Go,” qualified that incomes from ARBs in communities is greater than the income of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in non-ARCs, that on yield among ARBs rice was 10 percent higher than national average; corn, 50 percent higher. However, those who insisted on sugarcane production saw their incomes sink to -8 percent.

But agrarian reform in the sugarcane haciendas don’t paint the whole picture of agrarian reform as a dismal flop. As early as 2003, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization prepared a paper for the 29th Session of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome.

In its executive summary, the document points out the various studies that shows that agrarian reform has had a significant positive impact on farmer beneficiaries. Increased per capita incomes, reduced poverty incidence, higher investments in physical capital, and greater household welfare and productivity were reported, aside from social justice and peace attained in the countryside.

However, the UN document agrees with Gov. Marañón that government must concentrate on providing more support services to current ARBs.
Says the FAO document, “Land redistribution alone was not enough to liberate the small farmer from poverty and ensure the success of the Carp. Support services for the agrarian reform communities became pivotal in enhancing food security and building infrastructures that promote food production, enhance community trading, and increase rural household income.”

Among the setbacks, the UN points out that nearly three decades of Carp, the program is yet to be completed and is “currently burdened with major issues — from opposition by landlords and lack of support from legislators, to wide gaps in fund resources.”

While different groups and policy-makers disagree on the Carper extension, all can agree that the State should provide more support services for the agrarian reform communities.

*****

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 13, 2014.

Opinion

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