Private SectorInvestments in Landfor Food and Biofuels:
Investingin RuralDevelopmentor AggravatingHunger andPoverty?
n 2007, local officials of the municipalityof Delfin Albano and nearby areas inIsabela province were invited to China byPhilippine Fuhua Sterling AgriculturalTechnology Development Corporation for astudy tour. One year later, the localgovernment of Delfin Albano facilitated thesigning of 25 lease agreements between thecorporation and the small farmer-landholdersof the municipality. These agreements cover350 hectares of contiguous lands in DelfinAlbano, which have been earmarked for cornproduction.Early this year, the local government of SanMariano, also in Isabela, similarly identifiedand facilitated the participation of 91 farmers,including agrarian reform beneficiaries, in alease agreement with EcoFund LandDevelopment Inc.-Green Future Innovations(ECOF), a private company interested inproducing bioethanol from sugarcane feedstockand in building a bioethanol plant in SanMariano. At present, ECOF already has 200hectares for sugarcane nurseries and istargeting to develop at least 1,000 hectaresmore for the establishment of additionalnurseries.The lease agreements in the aforementionedtwo municipalities alone are already extensiveby themselves but they are just a small wavein what’s increasingly becoming a deluge of local and foreign private sector investments inPhilippine agricultural lands, one apparentlytriggered by the increased global need for foodand energy security. For local and foreign