BARMM, DAR ink pact to bolster land reform drive

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Bangsamoro government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to bolster the agrarian reform program in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

According to the DAR on Wednesday, the MOU signing is a milestone as the region established a partnership with the agency for the first time since the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was implemented in 1988.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III and BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim signed the MOU on Tuesday. The policy framework seeks to collaborate and share resources in implementing the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in the region, the agency said.

During the signing ceremony, Estrella pledged close coordination with the Bangsamoro government to successfully carry out DAR’s programs, including land distribution, agrarian justice delivery, and support services.

There are a total of more than 103,344 hectares of land available for distribution in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and in Special Geographic Areas, 65,379 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), 280 ARB organizations, and 110 agrarian reform communities in the BARMM, the DAR noted.

Anticipating the Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee in 2024, the DAR said Estrella likewise plans to secure more funding for the support services in the region. The agency seeks to provide more infrastructure projects, farm machinery and equipment, and agricultural inputs in the BARMM.

“We will also provide new agricultural technologies and introduce more modern and scientific ways of farming to BARMM’s farmer-beneficiaries,” he said.

The DAR added that Ebrahim sees the MOU as “the cornerstone” of the Bangsamoro region’s agrarian reform program as it aligns with their priority agenda to boost processes in ensuring rural development, strengthening regional food security, and bolstering agri-fisheries production to improve socio-economic lives in the region.

For the DAR’s Office for Mindanao Affairs, the MOU shows the agency’s commitment to getting closer to the people of Mindanao and the BARMM.

“This MOU strongly affirms the commitment of DAR and BARMM to improve the lives of farmers and families, reflecting Secretary Estrella’s unwavering dedication to paving the way for a more sustainable future for the well-being of every farmer in the country,” Undersecretary Amihilda Sangcopan said.