Land titling, the most effective and concrete combat against poverty

By Francisco Ruiz Díaz, President of INDERT

The numbers speak for themselves—indisputable evidence of a genuine land titling revolution, as President Santiago Peña highlighted. Reflecting on my work in these few months, he described me as a tireless worker, honest, and someone with tremendous sensitivity.

His words serve as motivation to continue breaking records. Boldly, I promised to achieve 2,000 land titles in 100 days, more than double the 927 titles per year achieved in previous administrations. I dared to say it because of my accumulated experience in the field and my knowledge of Cadastre and Registry of earlier roles. Thanks to his support, my personal values, and my commitment to our country, we have surpassed the goal by 30%, exceeding the annual titling average by more than 100%.

I had expressed to the President that we would revolutionize Paraguay to benefit people needing access to their property titles. Those without titles are condemned to poverty and backwardness, as he emphasized. The President reminded us that over the years, the Paraguayan state became the largest landowner through land purchases, contrary to the true goal of agrarian reform: «Not for the State to have land, but for the farmer to have land.»

He pointed out that it’s not just about land possession but also about obtaining the title, as this document provides identity, roots, and security to work the land.

My experience in public registry and cadastre, combined with President Peña’s political will, has yielded 2,288 titles to date, obtained since August 15, 2023. We applied realistic and effective legal strategies to assess land situations, identify bottlenecks, and lead a team.

We’ve also taken a step towards equality. In 2016, only 25% of women who were heads of households owned titles. President Peña decided to eliminate interest for women, reducing it from the general 12% to 0, ensuring their land titles. We also reduced the interest for men from 12% to 8%.

We have radically changed the way titles are delivered. Previously, about 20 titles were handed out at public events for photo ops. Afterward, farmers had to travel to Asunción to collect them from INDERT shelves. Under this Government, we go to the remotest places to deliver titles to new owners, with the President himself accompanying. Symbolic acts are over; deliveries are real and complete.

In Guairá, after over a decade of waiting, we swiftly delivered 48 property titles to beneficiaries of the San Francisco colony in Paso Yobái. As part of the massive titling program with the Mass Cadastre Sweep (BPM) method, we delivered titles to over a thousand beneficiaries in December at Guairá, Caazapá, San Pedro, Canindeyú, Alto Paraná, and Caaguazú.

These titles are part of the second batch of over 2,300 titles granted to Agrarian Reform subjects in these four months.

Thirty years ago, land ownership in Paraguay was among the world’s most unequal, with 1% of owners holding 77% of the land and 40% of peasant farmers having only 1% of agricultural land.

The process has been slow, but the demand for food grew every year, and the gap seemed impossible to overcome. Paraguay has adopted international treaties, committing to reducing this gap.

According to the FAO, small farms produce a higher proportion of global food relative to the percentage of land they use. What is our ultimate goal with Paraguayans’ land titling? To combat poverty and ensure food sovereignty. Owning their farms is the key to improving the quality of life for our country’s families.

According to statistics, we have advanced two years in these four months. At this real, documented, and concrete pace, we will continue reducing poverty and achieving the dream of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform.