LLANERA, Nueva Ecija: The government is planning to put an end to widespread land conversion that for years has defeated the goal to attain food self-sufficiency.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano revealed his office is awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of an executive order that will stop land conversion all over the country.
He said the executive order calls for a two-year moratorium in the acceptance of applications for land conversion.
“That two-year moratorium will give us time to reevaluate the previously approved (land conversion) applications. We can also find out if those lands were developed or not,” Mariano, a former Nueva Ecija farmer said.
The DAR secretary, was here on Monday to lead in the celebration of the 62nd founding anniversary of Llanera town which focused on the farmer’s role in national development.
Mayor Ronnie Pascual invited the secretary to the celebration dubbed as “Bannua a Mannalon” or “Farmers as Heroes” to make the townsfolk realize their vital role in the development of the agriculture-based economy of Llanera.
Mariano stressed it is important to determine the extent of conversion of agricultural lands into subdivisions and commercial establishments.
In Nueva Ecija alone, about 25 percent of rice and vegetable farms had been turned into commercial areas, depriving the farmers of their means of livelihood.
“From 1988 to September 2016, about 80,000 hectares of farm lands have already been converted all over the Philippines. Add to that the 120,000 hectares exempted and it will make about 200,000 lands no longer used for agricultural purposes,” Mariano said.
He explained that the 120,000 hectares exempted are the ones their owners have applied for exclusion from the areas mandated for distribution to the tillers under the agrarian reform law.
Since the agrarian reform program was implemented in 1987, Mariano said 4.7 million hectares have been awarded to 2.7 million farmers working on those lands.