CARP: After 28 ‘successful’ years, where’s development?
In an article, Billy de la Rosa contends that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program is “key to national development” (Talk of the Town, 3/29/15).
De la Rosa is being disingenuous. CARP has been going on since 1987. It’s the longest-running land distribution program in the world. And if we are to believe the World Bank, it’s also the most successful, with about 84 percent of its target (in land distribution) having been achieved.
Yet, after 28 years of CARP, have we seen national development, much more rural development? Our agricultural productivity remains low, in fact, the lowest in value-added per hectare compared to our Asean neighbors. Poverty is still endemic in the countryside. Quod erat demonstrandum. No further evidence is needed to show CARP is a total failure. The successes he cites are South Korea and Taiwan but land reform in these countries was limited to five years and to rice lands alone.
The usual excuse is that government support is lacking. No, there’s no lack of resources but government agencies like the Department of Agriculture waste them in anomalies like the fertilizer and Napoles scams.
For this very reason, it’s the private sector that must lead countryside agricultural development. However, the private sector will not invest if it’s uncertain that lands will be confiscated, or if they have to go through a long and tedious process just to get a Department of Agrarian Reform clearance, or if they will not be allowed to expand beyond five hectares.
The fact is that vested interests have developed in the perpetual extension of CARP, including the DAR (which wants to exist forever and extract rent for every approval of land conversion) and NGOs (which make a living in selling the tired nostrum of land reform).
—CALIXTO V. CHIKIAMCO,
president, Foundation for
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