New agrarian reform chief to promote Mega Farms, industrialize agriculture

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Bernie F. Cruz as the new Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) secretary, replacing former Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones who is running for senator under the PDP-Laban party in the 2022 polls.

Prior to his appointment, Cruz was DAR Undersecretary for the Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Office, the DAR said in a statement.

Cruz said the department would continue to seek Congress’ approval to allocate funds for the DAR’s Mega Farm project.

Mega Farm is a cluster of contiguous farms consolidated to form a sizeable plantation that can produce large volumes of farm products to meet the demands of institutional and commercial buyers. Such farms are 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 of the project.

Aside from doubling efforts to distribute all remaining undistributed lands to the landless farmers and providing support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries, Cruz vowed to industrialize the agricultural sector.

This would involve the provision of infrastructure projects, farm equipment, and the expansion of loan facilities, among other support, to achieve a stable rural economy, he said. / (CTL)

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