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Salceda: Agri sector loses P418 billion in output annually due to lack of support for agrarian reform beneficiaries; Sponsor of PBBM’s agri condonation plan wants revival of Marcos Sr.-era Samahang Nayon program

September 14th, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) says that the country’s agricultural sector is losing P418 billion annually in foregone gross value-added in the agriculture sector due to lack of support, capital, and capacity among the agrarian reform beneficiaries who farm some 10.3 million hectares of land distributed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

The House tax chair gave the assessment during his sponsorship speech of the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, President Marcos’s flagship measure for the condonation of unpaid amortization and interest payments on some 1.18 million hectares of agrarian reform land.

“CARP without adequate support services and with limited capital or entrepreneurship among farmer-beneficiaries is shown to have reduced agricultural productivity in CARP lands by as much as −34.1% compared to baseline. This has resulted in almost P418 billion in lost productivity for all CARP lands every year (for the 10.3 million hectares of CARP land),” Salceda wrote.

Salceda recalled that as early as February 2003, he was already arguing for condonation of agrarian reform debts.

“I brought up the concern about having stranded ARB lands due to non-payment of amortization during discussions of the first Land Administration and Management Project (Exec. Dir. of LAMP was then Asec. Mylene Garcia-Albano, our former colleague)”

“Then in May 2007, the PGMA cabinet formed task force to study PCOS proposal to condone ARB loans. In March 2020, our ARISE economic stimulus package included a provision on ARB debt condonation but was not considered in final Bayanihan law,” before President Marcos declared condonation state policy in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Arguing for President Marcos’s SONA proposal, Salceda added that “condonation of ARB debts could result in increase in productivity of between 23.8% (as the market can now allocate the land more efficiently) and 38.3% if productivity-enhancing interventions are increased (which the bill proposes) among the lands condoned.”

“For the concerned 1.18 million hectares, that’s 33.57 billion in added productivity, and 54.02 billion if you add in support services. The proxy used for the study was just high-yield seeds. For all condoned land, you just need 4.7 billion in additional annual expenses on high-yield seeds. For every one peso in support you spend as government, you get back 4.35 pesos in additional value-added. That’s a very attractive proposition,” Salceda added.

Salceda also proposed a provision that would enable Marcos to distribute the 52,000 hectares of public agricultural land that he promised to grant to landless farmers in his SONA.

“I am proposing to the committee that we add the provision that “the distribution of public agricultural lands under Section 7 of Republic Act No. 6657, as amended, is hereby extended to until June 30, 2028.””

This provision, Salceda said, will allow the President to grant the land without the need for a different law.

Salceda also called for the revival of Samahang Nayon and Kilusang Bayan under Presidential Decree No. 175, as implemented by LOI No. 23 s. 1973, during the elder Marcos President’s time.

“The best way to guarantee productivity for the newly emancipated and newly granted land is to make sure that the support ecosystem exists for their farmers-owners. That is the kind of support that Samahang Nayon and Kilusang Bayan programs can provide.”

“Naturally contiguous or proximate land should be organized under “farmer association areas” or farmer cooperative areas (revival of PD 175, as implemented by LOI No. 23 s. 1973, which created Samahang Nayon and Kilusang Bayan) with an assigned agribusiness management consultant,” Salceda proposed.

“SNs and KBs will be granted credit surety, be allowed to do relending programs, be prioritized for distribution of machineries and other capital goods for agriculture.”

“There were plenty of farsighted policies and pronouncements in the first Marcos administration, especially in agricultural productivity. They can be reviewed and revived, for the wisdom in many of them, like KBs and SNs, remains relevant.”

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