A BILL protecting the rights of agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) entering into Agribusiness Venture Arrangements (AVA) has hurdled the House Committee on Agrarian Reform.
House Bill No. 9060, or the “Agribusiness Ventures Arrangements in Agrarian Reform Lands Act,” has been recommended by the panel to the Rules Committee for plenary action.
The measure is intended to ensure that “control over the lands awarded under the agrarian reform program shall remain always with the agrarian reform beneficiaries.”
This is to address the issue of landowners losing control and access after the takeover of their land’s management by agribusiness partners.
An AVA is an entrepreneurial collaboration between ARBs and private investors, such as growership, contract growing, marketing contracts, service contracts, build-operate-transfer, joint venture agreements and lease agreements.
If enacted, the bill, under Section 8, will prohibit agreements between ARB and investors that will result in the beneficiaries being relegated to minority stakes.
The same section will also void any provision that will allow the permanent takeover of the “management of agricultural production in growership contract or contract growing.”
It, however, will allow temporary takeovers, limited to farm operations, provided there is mutual agreement between the parties and the agreement lasts for one crop cycle.
Violators of this provision face three to six years of imprisonment. The same will be subjected to those found guilty of coercion to pressure ARBs to enter into or renew an AVA.
The agreement may be revoked once the AVA is no longer financially and economically viable, or due to gross violation of the terms and conditions of the contract.
AVA contracts may also be revoked when an investor fails to provide benefits and incentives stipulated in the contracts without reason. — Charmaine A. Tadalan