#AgriFYI: DENR and agrarian reform

MANILA, Philippines – It has been three decades since the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) has been instituted. With the aim of redistributing some nine million hectares of public and private agricultural lands, the program was the supposed saving grace for the six million landless farmers and farm workers.

And while an average Filipino expects the burden of this task to be delegated solely to the Department of Agrarian Reform, a notable and important chunk of the rollout of this program was assigned instead to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Here are the roles of the environment department in the implementation of CARP:

  • Distribution of alienable and disposable (A&D) lands suitable for agriculture to farmers through processing and issuance of free or homestead patents;
  • Allocation of portions of forestlands suitable for agro-forestry by means of stewardship;
  • Provision for support to land acquisition and distribution by conducting surveys of public A&D lands and non-A&D lands; and
  • Provision for technical and operation support services including staff development, infrastructure support, extension services, community organization, training for upland farmers, program, beneficiary development (PBD), and development of CBFM-CARP areas.

Sadly, early CARP target figures was scaled down to just 8.2 million hectares after data cleaning in 1993. However, in 2006, DAR conducted an inventory of cope that led to raising the numbers to nine million hectares.

A report titled “Status of tenure reform in public lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program” cited the following accomplishments for the DENR:

  • “From July 1987 to December 2015, a total of 2,415,079 land patents covering 2,538,222 hectares of public agricultural A&D lands were issued by DENR, representing an average of 1.05 hectares granted to each beneficiary-family,” representing a 101 accomplishment of the 2.5-million hectare scope”;
  • Support activities: 542,533 lots or 722,220 ha. of private agricultural lands, 138,764 lots or 300,221 ha. of government-owned lands, Cadastral survey of 1,448,142 lots or 2,726,452 ha., public land surveys for 608,043 lots or 1,096,634 ha., inspection, verification, and approval of DAR-conducted land surveys for 6,192,620 lots or 7,486,135 ha., Parcellary survey for land of 1,101,502 ha., and Perimeter survey of 263,772 ha.
  • “Support services were provided in 110 CBFM sites (average of 7 CBFM-CARP sites/region) all over the country by the Department in 2000-2002. This includes PO strengthening and capacity building activities such as income generating projects (e. g. livestock raising), financial management training, livelihood enterprise development, forest area development and management, infrastructure development, and marketing information system to mention a few”; and
  • “In support of hunger mitigation and upland development, 762 hectares of agro forestry farms were developed in 2007, involving 8,393 beneficiaries within 35 project sites (DAR, 2009). In 2008, 1,585 hectares of agro-forestry farms involving 5,238 beneficiaries were developed in another 30 project sites”.

Despite these accomplishments, there are still some gray areas and points for clarification and improvement, as mentioned in the report:

  • “A need to clarify the DENR’s targets and accomplishment in relation to distribution of public agricultural A&D lands”;
  • “A need to clarify the DENR’s accomplishment in relation to the allocation of forestlands for ISF/CBFMs, and whether the targets were set too low”;
  • CBFMA a tenure instrument, or more of a conservation program;
  • “A need to study and review whether and to what extent individual families under group tenure systems such as CBFM are able to exercise and enjoy their full rights of tenure”;
  • “The issue of conflict and overlapping tenure instruments and management schemes, especially on lands of indigenous peoples”;
  • “The issue of reforming untitled public agricultural lands”;
  • “The need for program-wide impact studies of DENR-CARP implementation”; and
  • “…Whether the reform of public lands will continue under CARP and DENR.”
Note: The #AgriFYI series is made with content support from the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development at http://angoc.org/ and the International Land Coalition-Philippines at http://ilc-nes.ph/. You may check out their social media accounts at https://www.facebook.com/AsianNGOCoalition/ and https://twitter.com/ANGOCorg.