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DA Cautions Against Buying Awarded Farmlands, Advocates Farming

Cautioning the public, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) urged buyers to refrain from purchasing farmland properties awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries to avoid potential legal and financial dilemmas, Manila Times reported. According to the agency, sale transactions conducted without a DAR transfer clearance would be found invalid.

The transfer clearance is a certification that the farmer-beneficiary has satisfied the three major conditions set by the government. Among these requirements is the 10-year holding period, during which the beneficiary maintains full possession and control and continues tilling the farm lot awarded. 

The other two conditions entail the farmer beneficiary paying in full the annual amortization for 30 years, as well as the real estate tax and other government fees.

Buying Farm Lots

DAR also warned buyers to consider the size of the farmlands they’re buying. Under the law, Filipino citizens are allowed to own a maximum of only five hectares of lot. Larger assets will be placed under the government’s land reform program. 

In 2019, President Duterte signed Executive Order 75, which tasked DAR to acquire all government-owned lands suitable for agriculture and place them under Republic Act 6657, otherwise known as the CARP Law (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program). This legislation orders DAR to provide economic assistance to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Promoting Food Security

On the beneficiaries’ side, DAR strongly encourages keeping the lands awarded that they advised against selling. Last year, at the height of the pandemic, Secretary John Castriciones pushed farmers to maximize the potential of their lots and help the government achieve food security, as mentioned in this article from the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The department is bent on ensuring food availability for the country that they partnered with city governments to convert idle lands to urban farm areas. Dubbed as the Buhay sa Gulay project, the initiative kicked off in collaboration with the local government of Manila last November 2020.

Together, the partnership transformed an 8,000-square meter unused soccer field into an urban vegetable garden, as GMA News Online reported. The land, which was managed by St. John Bosco Parish in Tondo, supplied different kinds of fresh vegetables to the residents of the 17 barangays around the area. The community had its first harvest at the beginning of 2021.

DAR’s second Buhay sa Gulay project was in Quezon City. Launched in January, the initiative converted the seven hectares of idle land in New Greenland, Barangay Silangan into an urban vegetable farm. A month after its debut, the community’s efforts bore fruit, as they celebrated their first harvest, according to Manila Bulletin. Among the produce of the land were pechay, mustasa, kangkong, and spinach.

Meanwhile, the third urban vegetable farm in the capital region is in Caloocan. An unused lot in Barangay 167 in Sunriser Village became the site of another Buhay sa Gulay project, a separate report from Manila Bulletin showed.

Emerging Agri-Industrial Sites

With the emphasis on food security amid the pandemic, the government further steps up its efforts by creating agri-industrial sites.

Last year, Taguig signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the Urban Agriculture Project, which primarily involves establishing agri-industrial operations in the city. The site will feature warehouses, cold storage, and markets that the public can visit. 

Outside the capital region, another agro-industrial business corridor will rise next year. The facility will be in New Clark City, under the supervision of the DA and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), as reported by CNN Philippines. The first phase of the project is the construction of the National Seed Technology Park. 

Occupying a seven-hectare land, it will house a seed laboratory, incubation hubs, machinery shed, soil and water chemistry laboratory, and other support facilities.

The second phase, meanwhile, will involve 43 hectares of commercial components for agribusiness, including downstream and upstream linkages in the agricultural value chain.

In Mindanao, government agencies are looking to transform vacant public lands to accommodate different types of ecozones, including agro-industrial estates. 

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) recently said that it will file a resolution aimed at creating more special economic zones and fast-tracking the development in the southern region, as mentioned in this Business World report. Currently, there are 12 ecozones dedicated to agro-industrial operations in Mindanao.

Article and Photo originally posted by Lamudi last March 18, 2021.