The House Committee on Agrarian Reform, chaired by Bohol First District Representative Rene L. Relampagos, met agrarian reform stakeholders in the public hearing conducted in Davao City last November 23 in line with proposed legislative measures on agribusiness venture agreements (AVAs).
AVAs are entrepreneurial collaboration between agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and investors to implement an agribusiness venture involving lands distributed under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP. It is encouraged as a means by which investment of financial and other resources by the private sector can be channeled to agrarian reform areas through productive and collaborative ventures between the private sector and the ARBs.
To date, there are hundreds of AVAs in the country with the majority being in Mindanao. ARBs and ARB cooperatives or associations who are bonafide holders of emancipation patents (EPs), certificate of land ownership award (CLOAs), or similar tenurial instruments issued by the DAR or its predecessors may enter to AVAs. At present, AVAs is governed by Administrative Order No. 9, series of 2006, issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).
The legislative proposals, subject of the public inquiry, seek to investigate the current state of AVAs in the country and amend the existing legal framework governing AVAs.
Stakeholders presented their various comments on the matter which varied from support to objections. Chair Relampagos emphasized that public inquiry is not aimed at putting blame on anyone but to hear stakeholders and look at issues so they can be properly addressed through policies.
He added, “The implementation of AVAs should not be disadvantageous to the ARBs but should promote their interests. The DAR should be informed and consulted whenever ARBs enter into such agreements with agribusiness enterprises. While we need investments, it should not be at the expense of the ARBs who should be given fair share in the income of the business venture.”
After everyone had time to present, the Chair expressed his gratitude and assured that their positions will be considered once the Technical Working Group convened to finalize the bill.
In attendance were representatives from DAR Central Office and DAR Region XI, DOLE, TUCP, PGBEA, cooperatives, farmers’ groups and peoples’ organizations. With Chair Relampagos were partylist representatives Ariel Ka Ayik” Casilao of Anakpawis and Raymond Democrito Mendoza of TUCP.