Agri Dept to push for National Land Use law

It launched yesterday the updated Network of Protected Areas for Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Development and Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones Maps.

In the wake of the heated exchange between Senators Raffy Tulfo and Cynthia Villar over the conversion of arable land into residential or industrial lots, the Department of Agriculture and its Bureau of Soils and Water Management vowed to press the passage of the National Land Use Act that had languished in the Senate for years.

Villar’s family owns several property developers, some of which were pointed to as having undertaken massive acquisitions of farmlands throughout the country and redeveloped them into residential developments.

In Tulfo’s interpellation during the Department of Agriculture’s budget hearing, the neophyte senator brought out criticisms about the indiscriminate conversion of agricultural lands that now threatens food production, particularly rice which the country now imports.

The DA promised to protect farmlands from falling into the hands of developers. It launched yesterday the updated Network of Protected Areas for Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Development and Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones Maps.

The BSWM, through its Agricultural Land Management and Evaluation Division, generated the countrywide digital map versions of the NPAAAD and SAFDZ, which shall serve as critical inputs to local and national land use planning and policymaking.

The project aims to provide updated data as a basis for the proper planning and policy formulation for sustainable agriculture and fishery development.

“Notably, it will play a significant role upon the passage and enactment of the NLUA. These maps could also be a springboard for the Department to commensurate with the demand for digital and precision agriculture,” DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said.

JPE: No flatlands conversion

Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile said flatlands and loam soil lots should not even be considered for conversion since these are suitable for growing plants.

“What can be converted are lots that have clay or adobe underneath. Properties that are impossible to irrigate can also be redeveloped but the rest which is used as farms should not be used for other means,” he explained.

The NLUA seeks to institutionalize holistic, rational, and comprehensive land use and physical planning mechanism, which will appropriately identify land use and allocation patterns in all parts of the country.

However, the bill has yet to be passed after two decades.

“His Excellency President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is hoping he can do what his predecessor fell short of doing — convince Congress to pass the long-stalled Land Use Act,” Panganiban said.

The country’s food security is one of the President’s immediate priorities. Having a law on land use could resolve a big part of the problem of food security,” Panganiban added.

The NPAAAD and SAFDZ maps shall serve as a significant reference for preparing Comprehensive Land Use Plans, Provincial Development and Physical Framework Plans, and National and Regional Land Use Framework Plans.


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