Farmers' group asks PBBM to declare 2-year moratorium on agri land conversion

Published July 6, 2022, 7:43 PM

by Jel Santos

To ensure sufficient supply of grains in the country, a group of farmers on Wednesday, July 6, asked President and Agriculture Secretary Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. to declare a two-year moratorium on land conversion.

FARMERS in Western Visayas region are urged to adapt to climate-resilient farming. (DA-6)

This was following the President’s recent pronouncement that he wants the supply of grains such as rice and corn to be sufficient in the country, even ordering the officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to ensure that there’s an ample and affordable supply of the said grains.

In a press release, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said imposing a land conversion moratorium is needed to protect agricultural lands and raise the domestic output of rice and corn in the country.

“To increase the yield and production of rice and corn, the government must first protect our agricultural lands,” said KMP’s Rafael Mariano, former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) secretary.

To address the looming food crisis mentioned recently by the President, Mariano said it is “imperative and urgent to protect and preserve agricultural lands, especially with the looming food crisis.”

Per Mariano, Marcos should implement a two-year ban on the conversion of the following land classifications:

  • All awarded lands under Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, Presidential Decree 27, and other government agrarian reform laws

  • Agricultural lands with Notices of Coverage issued by the DAR

  • Irrigated and irrigable lands

  • Prime agricultural lands

  • Privately-owned lands with farmer-tenants

  • Agricultural lands being cultivated by farmers, individually or collectively

Mariano noted that the DAR has already identified shrinking agricultural land as among the challenges faced by the agriculture sector.

“Issuing an EO (Executive Order) prohibiting land-use conversion for at least two years will effectively protect more than 4.84 hectares of agricultural lands awarded to farmer-beneficiaries,” said the former DAR chief said.

According to Mariano, rice crop production for the period of April to June 2022 may increase to 4.23 MMT or by 1.4 percent from the same period last year. In the updated estimate of production for April to June 2022, it is at 1.48 MMT based on standing crop.

“Monsoon season is about to start in a couple of months. The steadily rising cost of fertilizer and fuel persists to threaten production targets. The government must have a sound and long-term policy track to ensure the steady production and supply of our staple grains,” he pointed out.