Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay – The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has turned over various infrastructure projects worth P22.9 million aimed at improving the economic condition of farming communities in Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga Sibugay.
DAR Secretary John R. Castriciones led the turn over of 43 projects, implemented under various projects and programs which include post-harvest facilities, food processing centers, reservoirs, warehouses, potable water systems, and provision of farm machines.
“These projects are significant in achieving progress in rural communities. These facilities and farm machines were provided not only to make life easier for our farmers, but also to sustain the development of their communities,” Castriciones said.
Most of the projects were coursed through agrarian cooperatives.
The DAR chief said more than 13,000 farmers and residents in the three provinces are now benefitting from these projects, 5,396 of them are agrarian reform beneficiaries.
“This land is God-given! Praise Him, I now have something to leave my son and my grandchildren,” said Marcelino Roda, 76, a coconut and vegetable farmer from Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte.
Castriciones urged the farmers to strengthen their farm cooperatives, a government prerequisite before any assistance is extended to them.
“If you are not yet a member of a cooperative, I am encouraging you to be one because a lot of government support services are given through cooperatives and farm associations,” he said.
Castriciones also led the distribution of certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) to 991 agrarian reform beneficiaries covering 1,422 hectares of agricultural lands in Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay.
Castriciones told the farmers during the ceremony that their CLOAs signify their “freedom from the bondage of tenancy.”
“This is a day for us to be happy because our farmer beneficiaries finally received the land titles that they have been wanting for so long,” he said in Filipino.
He also said that President Rodrigo Duterte is committed to strengthen the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
The president, Castriciones said, has signed Executive Order 75 ordering the DAR to acquire government-owned agricultural lands for eventual distribution to qualified beneficiaries.
Under E.O. 75 signed by the President last February 15, all agencies were mandated to identify lands suitable for agriculture and submit a list of these lands to the DAR, indicating the location and area of the said lands, actual use, and a legal basis of ownership.
“With this order from the President, more landless farmers will soon become landowners themselves,” Castriciones said.
In the Photo: DAR Secretary John R. Castriciones awards a CLOA to a farmer- beneficiary as Undersecretaries Karlo Bello, Luscius Junjun Malsi, Assistant Secretary Joey Sumatra and Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Mohammad Dassan J. Adju look on. (DAR Photo)