Marsman Estate, ARBs ink industry record’ lease agreement
January 25, 2020 - Saturday 6:01 PM by PNAWIN-WIN. Marsman Estate Plantation Inc. and more than 600 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) have signed an 80 percent increase in the annual lease package of the landholding in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte on January 7, 2020. Under the latest amendment to the lease contract, the ARBs are now paid more than double the industry average of PHP30,000 to PHP35,000 per hectare per year. (Photo courtesy of MEPI)
MANILA -- Marsman Estate Plantation Inc. (MEPI) and more than 600 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) have signed an 80 percent increase in the annual lease package of the landholding making it P90,000 per hectare per year, inclusive of production incentive -- by far the highest on record in the country’s agrarian reform program.
In a statement, Victor Mercado Jr., MEPI President and Chief Operating Officer, said “the increase in rental from P50,000 per year was accommodated at the request of the ARBs under the Davao Marsman Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries-Multi-Purpose Cooperative (DAMARB-MPC). The land that was distributed to the ARBs was donated by the company for free.
Under the latest amendment to the lease contract with the ARBs, the beneficiaries are now paid more than double the industry average of P30,000 to P35,000 per hectare per year.
This is a windfall for the ARBs, as MEPI even paid three years advance rental -- from 2020 to 2022.
Mercado also offered the same benefits and terms to the other beneficiaries who have not yet signed on to the lease contract.
He said: “We would like everybody in the community to share in the fruits of the land without leaving anybody behind.”
The company expects the remaining 149 agrarian reform beneficiaries to sign the new lease deal.
A total of 612 beneficiaries -- or more than 80 percent of the majority -- signed the 5th amendment to the Contract of Lease, where they declared that they ratify, defend, and support the validity of the said agreement.
Aside from the company and the agrarian reform beneficiaries, the Provincial Agrarian Reform Coordinating Committees also participated in the negotiations.
The company also employs at least one member from the beneficiary family and provides them and their families with education, healthcare, life insurance, retirement benefits, and other financial assistance aside from the rental income.
MEPI, which is based in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, has been engaged in the business of operating a banana plantation since 1969, with total plantation area of close to 2,000 hectares. It is part of the Marsman Drysdale Group which operates various businesses in the Philippines since the 1920s.
In September 2000, MEPI donated 800 hectares of land covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the government to some 762 eligible ARBs in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte. MEPI’s donation freed the government from paying lands acquisition cost then valued at P1 billion, and the ARBs from having to pay the government back.“The land donation was subject to a lease-back arrangement of 30 years where MEPI would pay the participating ARBs rental for use of their lands. MEPI would also pay the ARBs and the non-ARB workers among the highest wages in the industry. It would also provide them a package of benefits including health, education, retirement, and financial assistance.
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