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Emerging Issues in Land and Resource Use and Tenure

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"Identifying Viable Proposals and Actions to Safeguard Tenurial Rights of the Poor.”

Massive land acquisition in poorer countries became a global phenomenon at the aftermath of the food crisis in 2008. Led by rich and emerging economies like China and Korea, foreign investments have gone to land acquisition or contract growing arrangements for food crops that have given these investors control over large tract of agricultural lands, forests and coastal areas in developing countries like the Philippines . Huge investments have also poured into production of biofuel crops resulting in conversion of agricultural farms into biofuel plantations such as oil palm, jatropha and sugarcane. This trend persists to these days with disastrous consequences on local and national food security as well the rights and access to land and natural resources of millions of poor people.

In the country, national agrarian and land use policies as well as agriculture and development strategies are being fashioned to comply with guidelines for responsible agriculture investments espoused by international financial institutions like the World Bank. While national agriculture and agrarian policies are based on long-established goals of social justice and food security and more recently on food self-sufficiency (as a reaction to the global food crisis), the oft-repeated emphasis on agribusiness expansion and public-private partnership in resource utilization, management, and development may have long-running repercussions on these developmental goals. The Aquino administration has in fact sustained the strategy of National Convergence Initiative (NCI), initiated by the Arroyo administration, which aims to systematize land administration and ensure that investments in agribusiness and land-related projects are facilitated. New policies are likewise being pushed to address policy gaps which include the Sustainable Forest Ecosystem Management Act, Land Administration Reform Act, and the National Land Use Act.

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