IT DOES not take much study or survey to know that our farming community is fast becoming jurassic. Farmers all over the Philippines are getting older and older, with weaker and lesser productivity and thus, measly income.
The young generation of Filipinos does not have the right incentives to become productive farmers. They would rather go to the cities and provincial urban centers and work as employees, after finishing college or high school.
This is one of the reasons why the nation is having problems about food security.
The few young Filipinos who have studied scientific agriculture, meanwhile, are facing headwinds in their march to more productive agricultural endeavors.
They do not have the land to start their journey, to begin with.
This is the rationale for President Bongbong Marcos' policy of distributing idle government-owned lands (GOLs) to legal and qualified beneficiaries. He wants to give them livelihood and involve more Filipinos in food production.
In his time, former President Duterte issue Executive Order 75 series of 2019 which mandates the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to make an inventory of idle public lands, including those owned by state colleges and universities (SCUs) for the purpose cited above.
Following this EO, Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III is now accelerating the inventory of GOLs, even as he clarified that the Department will not entertain any moratorium on the distribution of these lands.
Estrella reported that the DAR is processing the evaluation of over 56,000 hectares of GOLs nationwide. About 26,000 lands have yet to be validated and targeted for distribution for free to qualified beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
The agrarian reform secretary however clarified that they will evaluate and list the "coverable SCUs and identify which areas are being used for agri-research. Only those areas not used for this purpose will be covered for distribution to qualified beneficiaries of the CARP."
The EO 75 directs all government agencies to identify, validate, segregate, transfer and distribute GOLs suitable for agriculture, no longer used for the purpose which they have been reserved and this will be intended for distribution to qualified beneficiaries. Estrella said that more than 200,000 hectares of government lands are expected to be covered under EO 75. "So far, at least 100,000 government lands are ready for distribution," he added.
Our young farmers are lucky that we have a law (Republic Act 6657) that says agricultural lands can be distributed to farmers who graduated in agriculture courses, aside from the usual war veterans and police and military retirees.