Government told: Make Luisita profitable for farmers

April 27, 2012

Virgil Lopez
Sun Star Manila
April 27, 2012

Following the Supreme Court decision affirming the breaking up of Hacienda Luisita, the government must ensure the vast sugar estate will become a viable source of income for over 6,200 farmworker-beneficiaries, a senator said Friday.

Otherwise, these farmers will just sell the land if based on the experiences of other agrarian reform communities in the country, according to Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.

Quoting news reports, Pangilinan, who is also chairman of the Senate committee on Agriculture and Food, said some Luisita farmers in Tarlac have already been getting purchase offers for their parcels of land.

To avoid the buyout scenario, the senator suggested organizing farmers into cooperatives, providing them credit and crop insurance, linking their produce to the markets, giving them technical assistance and access to the latest technology and know-how.

Pangilinan also pointed out that aside from sugar, the Luisita farmers, with help from the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Agriculture, should look into other high-value crops that can be planted in the area.

“Land redistribution if not supported by other critical services will simply be redistributing poverty, turning an organized enterprise into a disorganized community of impoverished farmers. This we cannot allow to happen,” he said.

Pending receipt of the Supreme Court decision, Malacañang could not start the process of distributing the estate, which may take a year to finish. But it said Thursday it will immediately implement the Supreme Court ruling on the Luisita estate once everything is settled.

The 4,915-hectare hacienda is owned by the relatives of President Benigno Aquino III.

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