CARP achieves opposite of its goal – Nat’l Scientist

Rudy A. Fernandez - The Philippine Star

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines – The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), after a quarter of a century of existence, has accomplished the “opposite” of its goal, a National Scientist  said.

“CARP and CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension and Reform) have created a new class of people: the landed poor,” stated Dr. Raul V. Fabella, a professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics

By this year (2014), he projected, 5.05 million of the 5.37 million hectares of targeted agricultural land shall have been distributed under the program, leaving 321,000 ha or an accomplishment rate of 99 percent of its target – a whopper of a success for a government program. Some 2.6 million farmers shall have gained more form of ownership to an average 1.2 ha.

However, “as a program to advance the economic welfare of farmers, it has accomplished the opposite of its stated goals,” the noted scientist asserted in a paper titled “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP): Time to Let Go”.

Dr. Fabella presented the report at the “Second International Conference on Agricultural and Rural Development in Southeast Asia


(ARD2014)” held recently at Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City. The conference was organized by the government-hosted, UP Los Baños-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and co-sponsored by 10 international, regional, and national development organizations and agencies, government and private entities, universities, and research institutions.

The assembly  was attended by more than 400 scientists, economists, academics, government policymakers, farmer-leaders, representatives of civil society organizations, and other stakeholders from 22 countries in Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and North America.

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (Republic Act 6657 or CARL) was passed in 1988, with CARP as the corresponding program. It was first extended in 1998.

In 2009, CARPER (Republic Act 9700) extended CARP for five more years (to 2014). Again, CARPER was extended to 2016.

“Expect clamor for another extension in 2016,” projected Dr. Fabella, who was dean of the UP School of Economics from 1998 to 2007.

Asserting that CARP achieved the opposite of the goals for which it had been crafted, Fabella said that productivity of some agricultural crops under the program was short of the projected objectives. 

For instance, it has drastically fallen in coconut (40 percent lower) and in sugar (eight percent). Moreover, poverty incidence among agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) in agrarian reform communities (ARC) stood at 54 percent in 2011 higher than for farmers in general.

Corn and rice productivity improved, though.

Dr. Fabella’s presentation explored the many design and implementation flaws  that have brought about CARP’s sad results, among them the “illegalization of the market for land assets” and the five-hectare land ownership ceiling leading to the “demise of the legal rural financial market and the flight of private capital.”

“It is time to shift from land equity to farm efficiency,” the noted  UP economist asserted.

He advocated the following: Let productive farmers legally cultivate 10 or more hectares as the market dictates; and let  firms registered with the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) legally operate agri-industrial farms without land ceiling.

Summing up, Dr. Fabella echoed the late Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the great Chinese economic miracle, who had stressed: “It is time to stop redistributing poverty!”









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