Retired employees of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) have been included in the agency’s land reform program in its goal of keeping the country’s agricultural lands from being turned into commercial and industrial sites.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones announced on Monday the agency’s retirees, specifically graduates of agriculture-related courses, would be awarded land certificates.
More than a way to express the agency’s gratitude for the retirees’ services, Castriciones explained the move was intended to preserve agricultural lands in the country as those who would be selected as beneficiaries would have the technical know-how in improving food production.
“He who takes agricultural courses will embrace farming with all [his/her] heart,” he added.
According to the agency, the secretary received “alleged mind-boggling” reports that some agrarian reform beneficiaries were either selling or pawning farm lots awarded to them, which prompted the expansion of the land reform program to those with agricultural degrees.
Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Emily Padilla added that during the agency’s past distribution of relief goods and farm inputs, she observed that “some recipients are not actually farm-beneficiaries.”
The practice has long been a problem in the industry, especially as most Filipino farmers are approaching their sunset years and are already preparing for retirement. Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Filipino farmers are age 53 on average.
This worrying trend has also prompted the DAR to launch the “Kumustasaka at ARBisitahan” program, intended to determine the current state of the land reform program 48 years since it was implemented.
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