TABUK CITY, Kalinga – A total of 745 farmers from Balbalan, Lubuagan, Pasil, Pinukpuk, Rizal, Tinglayan, and Tabuk City in Kalinga received their respective Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) from the government during simple turnover rites spearheaded by agrarian reform officials.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) distributed 965 CLOAs covering 504 hectares of the former Briones estate to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in a ceremony at the Kalinga Astrodome on Thursday.
DAR Secretary John Castriciones along with his undersecretaries and Kalinga officials led the distribution of the CLOAs.
In a speech, Castriciones urged the farmer beneficiaries not to sell their CLOA which he said represents their “freedom from the bondage of poverty and social injustices”.
He said that DAR will support farmers in developing their land through farm-to-market road projects, Land Bank credit assistance, and programs for farming implements and facilities.
Castriciones stressed the importance of creating Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) in identifying development strategies and cited technology as the key to increasing overall productivity.
“And that is the thrust that we are going forward to because we know that by improving the technology of farming through the support being extended by the different departments, we would be able to achieve that goal and we will be able to improve the economic lives of our farmers,” Castriciones said.
An ageing agricultural sector is a problem that DAR seeks to address, Castriciones said. “Ang average age ng magsasaka natin ay 57 years old,” he said. “Yan po ay nakakatakot sapagkat kapag dumating ang araw na lalong tatanda ang average ng magsasaka, baka wala na tayong magsasaka.”
“Una, nakikipagtulungan kami sa mga ahensya tulad ng TESDA na bibigyan ng scholarship ang kapamilya ng ating mga magsasaka para makakatuwang nila ang kanilang mga asawa at anak because they will be taught new kinds of crops.”
There is also the problem of farmers selling their CLOAs, which Castriciones said the DAR plans to address by formulating programs designed “to make farmers love their land”. He then directed DAR undersecretaries and officials to come up with affordable housing programs for farmers.
“I think the best way to do it is to make them love their lands through having a house in the land where they till,” Castriciones said in an interview. “Ang gusto po nating mangyari, yung isang buong pamilya nagtutulungan para po talagang mahalin nila ang kanilang lupa para hindi nila ito ididispose.”
Castriciones nonetheless warned that ARBs who will dispose their CLOAs will face corresponding punishments. “Kapag dinispose nila ang kanilang lupa at ito ay within the ten-year period, sila po ay mabibigyan ng kaukulang sanctions o kaparusahan at tsaka babawiin yung lupa sa kanila,” he said.
By Iryll Sicnao