Agrarian or land reform refers to the re-allocation of the agricultural lands, or the introduction of land reform programs. The collection of rules and regulations guiding the agrarian or land reform measures and activities in a legitimate and systematic manner is known as Agrarian Reform Act. Agrarian Reform Act is enforced through a specific set of organizations.
Agrarian Reform Act is found in almost all countries across the globe. The introduction of such law was essential to promote various agricultural land reform programs, for benefiting the rural farming population. However, in a wider sense, Agrarian Reform Act offers legal guidance to different agricultural organizations, with respect to activities like taxation, credit, cooperatives and rents.
The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act (1998):
Agrarian Reform Act is passed not every year, but from time to time, as per the requirement and necessities. Among various such laws, the Agrarian Reform Act (1998) is an important one. It comprises several sections and chapters, some of which are stated and briefly described below:
Section 1 generally introduces the Act to the people.
Section 2 declares its policies and principles. The policy of the Act is to pursue a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP. The principle of the Act believes in the welfare of the farmer population, the farm labors and landless cultivators, for the promotion of social justice. The Act also emphasizes on the development and industrialization of the rural areas.
Section 3 defines various basic concepts such as ‘Agrarian Reform, ‘Agricultural Activity or Agricultural Enterprise’, ‘Agriculture’, ‘Cooperatives’, ‘Agrarian Dispute’, ‘Farmer’, ‘Idle or Abandoned Land’, ‘Regular Farm worker’, ‘Farm worker’, ‘Other Farm worker’ and ‘Seasonal Farm worker’.
Section 4 under Chapter II of the Agrarian Reform Act (1998) declares the scope of the Act, as offering legal protection to all private and public or governmental land areas, irrespective of the crops produced and the agreements on the tenure of land holdings.
Section 5 deals with the implementation of the Agrarian Reform Act (1998). It assures allocation of land areas coming under the coverage of the Act, and the completion of its implementation within ten days time from the effective date.
Section 6 looks into the time limit for land retention. Unless otherwise stated and directed by the Act, no person is allowed for direct retention of any piece of land, either private or governmental.
Section 7 is concerned about the priorities of the landed areas. It offers various plans and programs for the acquisition and allocation of agricultural land.
Section 8 allows the intervention and involvement of the multinational companies and associations into the scenario, allowing them to own the leased public lands and other government-controlled and owned land areas.
Section 9 of the Agrarian Reform Act ensures possession of ancestral land areas by the native cultural groups. The rights of these indigenous communities to their ancestral lands will be protected in the interest of their economic, cultural and social welfares.
Section 10 of the Act exempts the following types of land from its coverage:
- Forest reserves
- Mangrove forest areas
- Prawn farms
- Fish-breeding ponds
- Amusement parks
- Reforestation areas
- Fish sanctuaries
- Wildlife parks
- Animal breeding grounds