LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—The Department of Agrarian Reform in Benguet (DAR Benguet) is stepping up land acquisition and distribution (LAD) to complete its balance of 362 hectares under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) by the end of the year.
DAR Benguet Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Robert Ampaguey said of the total 21,000 hectares public and private agricultural lands covered by CARP in the province, only 362 hectares remain undistributed, more than half of which are in Kapangan town, a fourth-class municipality near this booming urban center.
“By 2013, we intend to be LAD-free,” Ampaguey said.
CARP, he said, has so far benefited 20,000 agrarian-reform beneficiaries in the province’s 13 towns with lands and various support services ranging from infrastructure to trainings and seminars to enhance the various agrarian-reform communities and farmers’ cooperatives established with the help of the agency.
During the more than two decades of CARP implementation, the DAR was able to establish a total of 16 agrarian reform communities (ARCs) composed of 13 regular ARCs and three special ARCs, he said.
Benguet is one of the top vegetable-producing provinces in Luzon. It supplies Metro Manila with high-value vegetable crops such as cabbage, carrots and potatoes which are among its major products. The province is also known to be rice self-sufficient.
Currently, DAR Benguet is focused on implementing various support services, including the foreign-assisted Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Program (Arisp-III).
Under the program, three municipalities in Benguet, namely, Bacoun, Kibungan and Kapangan receive support services.
“For Arisp-III, we have completed two potable water systems already and we have two ongoing farm-to-market roads [FMRs],” he said.
The P28-million, 5.2-kilometer Bacoun FMR is nearly complete, while the P36-million Lumon-Gadang FMR in Kapangan is scheduled for bidding, Ampaguey said.
CARP was instrumental in boosting the province’s agricultural production over the past two decades, he said.
The irrigation system the DAR put in place allowed farmers to plant rice and vegetables even during the dry season.
He said one final project under Arisp-III is the P10.8-million Gadang Communal Irrigation System rehabilitation project, which aims to improve irrigation for over 100 hectares of rice and vegetable farms, is ongoing and scheduled to be completed by 2014.
He said currently, DAR Benguet is focused on identifying more sources of water for irrigation, particularly in the town of Kapangan.