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Private Sector Investments in Land for Food and Biofuels: Investing in rural development or aggravating hunger and poverty?
The magnitude of ongoing and planned agricultural investments, as well as the positive and negative impacts that such investments have brought about in the past, call attention to the need to provide safeguards to local small farmers and smallholders wanting to involve themselves in such deals. In particular, the current regulatory framework guiding agricultural land investments in the country should ensure that local producers will truly benefit from such investments.
Also, for the sake of inclusive and sustainable agricultural economic growth, there is a need for government to strike a balance between the use of agricultural lands to serve the country’s food and development needs and the use of such lands for private business, whether for export or domestic food or biofuel feedstock production.
All these point to the urgency of coming up with a coherent and appropriate regulatory framework that will govern investments in Philippine agricultural lands so that these will promote, rather than undermine, the country’s agricultural and overall economic development objectives. The sad reality is no such framework exists at present, putting at risk not only the interests and welfare of small farmers and landholders but the sustainability no less of agricultural industries in the country.