PH agri underperformed in last 30 yrs, says WB

By Michael Punongbayan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 08 2014 07:53 AM | Updated as of Dec 08 2014 03:53 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine agriculture sector has been underperforming during the last 30 years compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, a World Bank (WB) report said.

The report, titled “Philippine Development: Creating More and Better Jobs,” cited agrarian reform issues as some of the factors behind low agricultural productivity.

“Not counting the efforts of earlier governments since the 1930s, the current Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and its five-year extension under CARPER is now 26 years old, one of the longest in the world, and yet no significant development has been made in that sector,” the World Bank noted.

Economist Raul Fabella of the University of the Philippines School of Economics and the National Academy of Science and Technology noted that CARP has failed to improve farm productivity and the quality of life of its beneficiaries, and has succeeded only in redistributing poverty.

“We now have to redirect our agricultural focus from land equity to farm efficiency,” Fabella said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank took note of how anomalies have hounded the department, the latest being the P900-million Malampaya Fund scam.

It is also noted that many agrarian reform beneficiaries, lacking capital and access to support services needed to successfully operate their landholdings, have “sold” or “leased” these to consolidators, giving rise to a new set of “landowners.”

“The distribution process itself is also often hotly contested, with allegations that agrarian reform officers often include relatives or outsiders among the beneficiaries, dispossessing the actual tenant-farmers of their due,” the report said.

Faced with regional competition with the implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) in 2015, concerns are being raised about the Philippine’s ability to compete against cheap agricultural imports.

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