• Negros farmers granted P27-M loans, 1,453 hectares

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    The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) distributed land titles and P27-million worth of credit assistance to 1,134 agrarian reform beneficiaries in Negros Occidental.

    In a statement, DAR Under-secretary Jerry Pacturan said that each of the new farmer-landowners received an average of 1.28 hectares of farmland out of the total 1,453 hectares distributed in line with the 25th anniversary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

    Pacturan also announced that the P26.85-million credit assistance would include free insurance package to spare the farmer-beneficiaries from any financial obligations for damages that they may incur on their farms as a result of natural calamities.

    He added that the insurance package is not only meant to safeguard the farmer-beneficiaries’ farms from the possible onslaught of pests and strong typhoons, but it also provides all members of the recipient agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBOs) and their families P50,000 insurance coverage each in case of death or accident.

    The P26.85-million credit assistance extended to the ARBOs in the province’s northern area is the latest form of support services being provided under the DAR’s “P1-billion Agrarian Production Credit Program [APCP].” It is a follow through to the P108-million provided to their southern counterparts last week, the official said.

    Pacturan said the P1-billion APCP is in line with the Aquino administration’s effort to revitalize the country’s agriculture industry, and in response to strong clamor from CARP beneficiaries themselves to provide them easy access to credit assistance for farm inputs.

    Sugar estates
    In a related development, DAR has successfully completed the acquisition and distribution of four big sugar estates in Negros Occidental, installing 270 farm-workers in some 500 hectares of land in the cities of Cadiz and Sagay.

    DAR Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Teofilo Inocencio hope to increase the level of cooperation among stakeholders in the agrarian reform program will help fast-track CARP implementation in Negros Occidental and replicated in other parts of the country.

    Inocencio explained that installation activities are meant to assist farm worker-beneficiaries in identifying and occupying their CARP-awarded lands. Installation is crucial only in areas where tension may arise between previous landowners and qualified beneficiaries, as well as among farm-workers who are affiliated with different farmers’ organizations.
    “In most part of the country, the beneficiaries given Certificates of Land Ownership Awards assume possession of the land without the need of installation. We only resort to installation to prevent the possible outbreak of violence as a result of the land distribution,” he said.

    “In some areas, tension is still high between the previous landowners and the beneficiaries. In other areas, the tension comes from different farmers’ groups that have conflicting claims on individual farm lots,” Inocencio added.

    Unlike in rice lands where tenants occupy specific farm lots, he noted that farm workers in haciendas have no permanent farm lots to claim as their own.

    “We embark on installation activities also to help farm workers identify the specific farm lots that they will now own,” Inocencio said.

    The successful installation activities in Negros Occidental was part of the DAR’s ongoing efforts to distribute all CARP-covered lands before President Aquino’s term ends in 2016.

    As of January 2013, there are still 93,000 landholdings covering 870,000 hectares that remain undistributed under the agrarian reform program. Of which, more than 15,558 landholdings covering a gross area of more than 162,000 hectares of Phase 1-3A lands have been tagged as problematic.

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