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- “A transparent and well-regulated Land Pooling system has the potential to solve the problems associated with the current Land Acquisition Framework” Critically Analyze.
- Discuss the significance of cooperative farming in India. Highlight the challenges and suggest measures for effective implementation.
- Should contract farming and land leasing be promoted in India considering the small land holdings? Critically Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages.
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India is a country with high population density and huge land scarcity. Therefore, land acquisition is slowly becoming more and more difficult, and it is hindering developmental activities. Further, the land acquisition system has also become unpopular due to complaints of low compensation and forceful acquisition. The system of land pooling comes as a ray of home in this scenario to ensure that the developmental activities are not hindered, and the original landowners are also satisfied.
What is Land Pooling?
- Under Land Pooling Policy, a development agency pools land parcels owned by individuals, a group of owners or a builder. Then it develops the land and returns a part of it to the original owners. In this way, the land is made available for development work and a part of developed land returned to the owner is worth more than the original value of the land, thus satisfying the original owners.
Advantages of Land Pooling Policy
- Unlocking huge parcel of land for development -> Land Acquisition is becoming unattractive for people, and this may appear as an alternative and attractive option.
- This would also contribute to reducing stress on already developed areas and may also restrict price escalation in these areas.
- It thus emerges as a transformative step for urbanization.
- It also promotes public-private partnership and trust -> this is due to wider community participation in the whole process of land pooling, development and return of ownership.
- Aggregates small land piece for bigger projects. This leads to more efficient utilization of land.
- Reduced initial cost for development authority -> As there is no need to buy the land for the developmental projects.
- Less conflict ridden as is the case of Land Acquisition due to inadequate compensation, consent, process etc.
- Original Owners will also be benefitted as the land returned to them, though smaller in size, have access to infrastructure and services which increases the value of the land drastically. Further, the landowners are not displaced in the land pooling scenario.
- Poor System of land records can be a concern here. Participation in land pooling is dependent on the owner having proper land ownership documents.
- In the case of pooling for Amravati even fertile agricultural land was also pooled.
- Unlike land acquisition, the provisions for the social or environmental impact assessment are absent in case of land pooling. Therefore, the impact on landless laborers and on the environment is generally ignored or very meagre compensation is paid to landless workers.
- There have been instances of mandatory land pooling. For e.g., in case of Navi Mumbai Airport Land Pooling, the pooling was made mandatory because of the delays in the process.
- There is a need for a transparent regulatory framework with statutory backing to ensure that the land pooling process is transparent, consensual and doesn’t use agricultural or environmentally sensitive zones. Further, this framework should also provide for mandatory social and environmental impact assessments before the beginning of the developmental work.
Land Pooling if done on non-agricultural land (for e.g., in urban villages) and along with social and environmental impact assessments, can emerge as a tool of transformative urban development which is beneficial for all the three parties i.e., the landowners, the private sector and the government. Landowners get better value and better quality of land; private players can participate in commercial and developmental processes and the government is able to facilitate development.
Cooperative farming has been advocated to solve the problems created by subdivision of holdings. The idea is that farmers having very small holdings should join hands and pool their lands for the purpose of cultivation.
The significance of cooperative farming in India:
- Resource pooling: Enables small farmers to combine their land, labor, and resources, achieving economies of scale and improving productivity.
- Access to credit: Cooperative farming facilitates easier access to credit and financial support, empowering farmers to invest in modern inputs and technologies.
- Market access: Collectively marketing produce allows for better negotiation power, higher bargaining capacity, and fairer prices for farmers.
- Risk mitigation: By diversifying crops and sharing risks, cooperative farmers can better cope with fluctuations in market prices, weather conditions, and other uncertainties.
- Social empowerment: Cooperative farming strengthens social cohesion, encourages collective decision-making, and fosters unity among farmers, promoting community development.
- Infrastructure development: Cooperatives can invest in shared infrastructure like irrigation systems, warehouses, processing units, and transportation, benefiting all members.
Challenges in cooperative farming in India:
- Difficulty in equitable distribution of benefits: Ensuring fair distribution of profits, resources, and decision-making power among members can be a challenge.
- Governance and management issues: Inefficient management, lack of accountability, and governance challenges can hinder the smooth operation of cooperatives.
- Lack of technical knowledge and training: Access to technical know-how and training is essential for cooperative farmers to adopt modern farming practices and increase productivity.
- Socioeconomic disparities and inclusivity: Ensuring inclusivity and addressing disparities among members, such as gender and caste, remains a significant challenge in cooperative farming.
- Land fragmentation and size disparities: Fragmented land holdings and varying farm sizes within cooperatives can create operational complexities and uneven resource distribution.
Measures required for effective implementation of cooperative farming in India:
- Capacity building: Provide training and technical assistance to enhance members’ skills and knowledge in cooperative farming.
- Strengthen governance: Implement transparent and accountable governance mechanisms within cooperatives to ensure efficient decision-making and management.
- Policy support: Create supportive policies and incentives to promote cooperative farming and address regulatory barriers.
- Networking and collaboration: Encourage cooperation and collaboration among different cooperatives to share resources, knowledge, and experiences.
- Monitoring and evaluation: Establish a robust monitoring system to track the performance and impact of cooperative farming initiatives.
While contract farming, if implemented wisely, does have the potentials to alleviate the sufferings of India’s farmers, improved yields, and greater technology transfer, it is imperative that the state government takes a cautious, research backed approach and implements the model law with modifications suitable for the state.
- Contract farming: An agreement between farmers and companies where farmers produce a specific crop for the company under predetermined terms, receiving input and support in exchange for selling the produce.
- Land leasing: Renting agricultural land to another party for a specified period, where the tenant pays rent or a share of the produce and is responsible for farming operations.
Data and Facts:
- As per Agriculture Census, the average size of operational holdings has decreased from 2.28 hectares in 1970-71 to 1.84 hectares in 1980-81, to 1.41 hectares in 1995-96 and to 1.08 hectares in 2015-16.
- As per NABARD All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey (2016-17), All-India, 12% households leased-in agricultural lands. The incidence of tenancy is under-reported as tenancy in most states is not permissible legally.
- As per 70th round of NSSO Report (2013), the share of small and marginal farmers in the total leased-in land is 52%.
How contract farming and land leasing are regulated in India:
- Indian Contract Act, 1872.
- The Model APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) Act, 2003.
- Model Contract Farming Act, 2018.
- Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2018.
- Model Land leasing Act 2016
- Access to technology and expertise for small farmers, leading to increased productivity and efficiency.
- Improved market connections and higher income potential for small farmers through assured buy-back agreements.
- Facilitates economies of scale, enabling small farmers to benefit from shared resources and reduced production costs.
- Diversification of agricultural practices and crops, enhancing resilience and mitigating risks.
- Potential for attracting private investment and promoting modernization of agriculture.
- Risk of exploitation and unfair contracts, as small farmers may lack bargaining power and face unequal terms.
- Loss of land control and decision-making power for farmers, potentially leading to dependency on corporate entities.
- Potential threat to food security if large tracts of land are leased for non-food crops or commercial purposes.
- Socioeconomic disparities may widen, with large farmers benefiting more than small farmers.
- Challenges in implementing and regulating contracts and leasing agreements, requiring robust legal frameworks and oversight.
In conclusion, considering the small land holdings in India, promoting contract farming and land leasing holds the potential to uplift small farmers by providing access to technology, markets, and resources, leading to increased productivity, incomes, and resilience in the agricultural sector.