PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Undersecretary for Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Office (FASPO) Bernie F. Cruz as the new DAR secretary.
Cruz vowed that he would lead the department in bringing progress in the countryside.
“I believe that one of our projects that will boost agricultural productivity in the country is the department’s Mega Farm. We will continue to seek the Congress’ approval to allocate funds for this project,” Cruz said.
He stressed that Mega Farm is a cluster of contiguous farms that are consolidated to form a sizeable plantation capable of producing large volumes of farm products to meet the demands of institutional and commercial buyers and is open to different high-value cash crops.
“It will be beneficial for individual farmers who now own land to enter into commercial and agri-venture arrangements so that they can enter into supply contracts. We hope to shift them away from subsistence farming – or merely planting and harvesting so they have something to eat – towards trade and product exports,” Cruz said, highlighting the importance of the project.
The newly-appointed chief also said that under his leadership, the agency would double its effort to distribute all the remaining undistributed lands to the landless farmers, provide support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and bring social justice in agrarian communities.
Cruz divulged that the government still has a balance of more than 700,000 hectares of agricultural lands – including private lands, which are mostly problematic landholdings, and idle public lands suitable for agriculture.
“If these lands were awarded to qualified and deserving ARBs, the country would have a sustainable agricultural sector that would contribute in ensuring food security,” Cruz said.
“I am committed to bring industrialization in the agricultural sector and through provisions of support services such as various livelihood opportunities, infrastructure projects, farm machineries and equipment, capability-buildings training, loan facilities, among other support, we can achieve a stable rural economy,” he added.
Cruz replaces former Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones who is running for senator under the PDP-Laban party in this coming 2022 election.
Department of Agrarian Reform