ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – On the day government handed out ownership of land to farmers from Zamboanga Peninsula’s three provinces, acting Agrarian Reform Secretary Bernie Ferrer Cruz urged the beneficiaries not to sell their parcels to developers of subdivisions and other non-agricultural purposes.
Cruz led the distribution of 1,148 Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) to 1,074 recipients in a ceremony held Thursday, May 19, in Dapitan City. DAR also gave out farm implements during the event.
In press conference later, the DAR secretary highlighted the dwindling availability of farm lands and the bigger problem this situation poses.
“We’re now on the crossroads of having shortage of agricultural lands amid the looming global food shortage, we should not lose any more agricultural land to subdivisions or other purposes,” Cruz said.
The CLOAs given Thursday covered 1,800.64 hectares in the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay. At least P50,125,928 total cost of development sustainability projects were also turned over to beneficiaries during the ceremony.
Cruz appealed to the beneficiaries not to sell their land, but instead use of it for food production.
He said the lack of management skills on the commercial aspect of farm production was the reason that local farmers were at a disadvantage against their overseas counterparts.
“You know, our large malls prefer to order from outside the country because it’s cheaper and faster, they will just negotiate to give us this product of this quality and this many every month for how many years,” the DAR secretary said.
Here in the Philippines, Cruz added, buyers have to talk to a lot of small producers, and many of them have already negotiated with middlemen. This made local produce more costly that those imported.
“Of course, our farmers know about modern agriculture, but how to make their produce commercially viable, duon tayo medyo kapus, kailangan may sistema (That’s where we are lacking, we should have some system),” Cruz said.
He added that an effective management system can also mean steady supply of produce, making it attractive to retailers. – Rappler.com