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Land reform key to combat climate change – expert

Jun. 05, 2010

DAVAO CITY—A climate change expert has asserted that land reform helps mitigate global warming, saying that giving people “some variety of stable rights over land” encourages them to invest more in the land and enhance its productivity.

James Putzel, head of the Crisis States Research Centre of the London School of Economics, said that part of any system of climate change adaptation like in the Philippines needs to involve the distribution and redistribution of land rights.

In his speech at the National Conference on Asset Reform and Climate Change at the University of the Philippine-Ayala Techno Hub in Quezon City, .Putzel noted that small farmers deal better with microclimates as they do farming even if they are under financial strait, making up for the lack of capital through hard work. He continued that large farm operators tend to hold onto the land mainly for its value when converted to non-agricultural uses.

“The evidence that owner cultivators tend to invest more in the land than large or small absentee owners is (also) overwhelming,” he stressed, putting the former in the best position to better manage the country’s forests and agriculture and increase the application of greener and smarter technologies to mitigate climate change.

“With the right incentives and access to green technologies, they can form the backbone of a sustainable agricultural system that can become increasingly productive over time,” Putzel added.

Putzel said the country’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) is right on course, citing in particular the provision on support services, one of the program’s major components, besides land acquisition and distribution and delivery of agrarian justice.

“The pressure (that is) put on existing agricultural systems by climate change means it will be more important than ever that land reform involve providing means to make the land more productive,” Putzel said, adding that the rehabilitation and construction of irrigation system is crucial.

Narciso Nieto, Department of Agrarian Reforms (DAR) Undersecretary for Finance and Management, agreed with Putzel, saying that the government has been linking up with various foreign donor countries for assistance to make up for its otherwise limited resources to provide farmer-beneficiaries support services like irrigation facilities, farm-to-market roads and bridges, among others.

Nieto added that the DAR is also linking up with foreign and local institutions for modern farm technologies that could help double farm productivity. (PIA)

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