Agrarian Reform Evaluation

Manila Bulletin, March 21, 2002 | Go to article overview

Agrarian Reform Evaluation


AT times it is referred to as land reform or rural reform. But the better designation is "agrarian" since it connotes more than access to land but access to credit, access to technology and to markets. Forty years ago, the Philippines launched an agrarian reform program under President Ferdinand Marcos. Reinforced by another decree by President Corazon Aquino in 1986. Now, it is time to make an assessment of its results. For some, it is a moderate success; to others, it is a dismal failure.

Theoretically, access to land and stability of tenure are necessary albeit not sufficient conditions for maximum productivity. The original decree provided for access to credit, so the creation of the Land Bank. It took access to technology and access to markets for granted. The question is: Did it help our farmers and did it help the economy? Did it alleviate poverty? The proof of the pudding is in the eating. What are the results? It certainly helped many tenants/farmers. But on an overall basis was it a success? Certainly, the land reform of Taiwan, Japan, South Korea are considered successes. How does our agrarian reform compare with those?

In theory, access to land would motivate the actual tillers to be most productive while the former landowners are paid off and so can go into industry. Many of these did not know how to go into industry or even what to do with the money if they were paid at all. To some, the problem was implementation. The other ingredients were not provided in sufficient amount. Credit was initially provided by Land Bank but because of the rate of non-performing loans even Land Bank has withdrawn from direct lending to the farmers.

Some technology was available but markets were not stabilized. When the harvest is good, the price of the corn and other commodities dropped. …

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