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Season 6 - Episode 1
Transforming agriculture in the Philippines

Calixto Chikiamco is President of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), a public advocacy organization in Quezon City, Philippines whose mission is to advance the cause of economic and political liberty, good governance, secure and well-defined property rights, market-oriented reforms, and consumer protection. The FEF won Atlas Network’s 2019 Templeton Freedom Award for its work to end restrictions on agricultural land patents, potentially transforming the country’s entire agricultural sector.


In industrialized countries, the ability to sell your own land, or to use it as collateral to obtain a loan, is taken for granted. But in many parts of the world, such basic property rights are much more restricted, or even nonexistent. In this illuminating interview, Foundation for Economic Freedom President Calixto Chikiamco discusses the work his organization has done to improve this state of affairs in the Philippines.

“We believe that having secure and well-defined property rights is a key to economic development,” says the FEF President, which is why they pushed to make it easier to get title to residential property in the Philippines. This used to require going to court, and would take years, an ordeal that was prohibitively expensive. Now, the process is an administrative one, and the government is mandated to issue the title within 90 days.

As for agricultural land, farmers couldn’t borrow against it, and couldn’t sell it within five years of buying. Moreover, the previous owner had the option of buying back the land within those five years. All of this discouraged investment, contributing to a level of agricultural productivity that is the lowest in the region. “The average size of farms in the Philippines is only one hectare, too small for economies of scale,” explains Mr. Chikiamco.

With the new law, full property rights were restored for 2.5 million people, liberating billions of dollars in land values. This will help propel the Philippines forward, which is important for a country that, although experiencing strong annual growth of about 6%, still has high poverty rates, especially in rural areas.

Links of interest

Foundation for Economic Freedom / The 2019 Templeton Freedom Award