Department Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano vowed to go after individuals and institutions who failed to develop their converted agricultural lands into commercial, industrial or residential areas.
"The owners either failed to fully develop it for, maybe, lack of funds are now lying there half-done. Others are just literally lying there untouched," said Mariano.
Mariano said under the law, if the owners failed to develop it for its intended use within five years on the date of convertion, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) can go after these individuals or companies and file for the revocation of their converted lands to agricultural use.
Mariano said he recently asked the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for a list of irrigated lands that has been converted into non-agricultural lands.
"NIA's data said some 50,000 hectares were converted. The average rice yield per hectare is three to four metric tons. That would mean we are losing more than 150 metric tons of rice every harvest season which could have been additional production to ensure our food security," explained Mariano.
A few weeks back Mariano has ordered the DAR to review and make an inventory of agricultural lands converted into non-agircultural in the last five years.
"By September, I will know the extent of those converted lands in terms of number of conversion orders, areas covered and number of farmers involved. We will then study everything before we make legal actions," Mariano said during the visit of the World Food Program (WFP) represented by Country Director Praveen Agrawal and his team.
During the visit, the WFP team presented ways to mitigate hunger and poverty in the country by using a system called Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM).
The VAM is a tool that contains analytical outputs such as early warning assessment to provide information and inputs for risk mitigation, market studies, price monitoring, etc.
"The VAM also has various information maps. An example is the rainfall and vegetation map. This map tells you the weather condition of a country and how it might impact the lives and livelihood of the population," said Agrawal.
Impressed with the VAM, DAR Underseretary for Foreign Assisted Projects Sylvia Mallari said "through the features of of the VAM, these will help us in forecasting what's ahead for our farmers in agrarian reform areas. We can then make the necessary steps before a calamity occurs."
At present the WFP is collaborating with the DAR in ensuring food security in the rural communities under the Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (PAHP).
The WFP is a United Nation food aide agency fighting hunger worldwide.
Source: Philippine Information Agency