Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP): time to let go

Raul V. Fabella


This paper revisits the record of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) in the Philippines over its quartercentury existence. By 2014, it shall have accomplished 99 percent of its target—an impressive success for a government program. As a program to advance the economic welfare of farmers, however, it has accomplished the opposite of its stated goals. Productivity in coconut and sugar has fallen drastically, and poverty incidence among beneficiaries in agrarian-reform communities is even higher than among farmers in general. CARP and CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Reforms) have created a new social class: the landed poor. The design and implementation flaws that brought about this result are explored, including carp’s suppression of the market for land assets and its rigid five-hectare landownership ceiling, which led to the demise of the legal rural financial market and the flight of private capital. The paper argues for a shift in the policy focus henceforth from equity to efficiency, and the revival of markets for rural output and credit by, among others, lifting landownership limits for productive farmers and publicly registered corporations.

JEL classification: Q140, Q150


land reform, equity, land markets, credit markets, Coase theorem

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