Farm size can be assessed in many ways such as by mapping land area, value of output, value of sales or profits etc. However, productivity on farm depends on many factors like quality input, labour, modern method, scientific management etc. With study in recent years it has been witnessed that small farmers with small land holdings are able to produce more in comparison to large farm sized farmers.
The reasons for increased production from small landholdings:
- Hard work: small farmers tend to work on the field themselves rather than hiring employees and employing machines. Hard work with effective monitoring helped them with increased output.
- Better quality input: small farmers have also been benefitted with the government established institutions. Use of High Yielding Variety of Seeds, Checking soil health and sowing good output crops helped them in increasing farm output.
- Scientific Management: Apart from this scientific management of farming, productivity and production has also helped them in increasing their farm output.
Does inverse relationship exist?
Productivity on farms depends on many factors. However, with the same traditional method of farming the small land holders were able to produce more with increasing output. This was because of their greater labour input and also there was no modern method of farming for big land holders to compare.
Since, the advent of modern method of farming, the landowners are now able to grow more in big or small farms both. Later, the progressive and commercial farmers started to employ more modern technology hence increasing output in comparison to small land holders.
Hence, we can say that the relationship of farm and output depends on the types of input and timing. The productivity also depends on effective utilization of resources.
However, despite increased productivity ensuring food security for the country through their hard work has not meant greater income and prosperity for the farmers. There are several possible solutions being discussed in the policy circles as how to increase the income of farmers.
In this regard, there are three fundamental sutras for a farmer’s prosperity:
- Reduction in cost of cultivation
- Increase in productivity and production and
- Remunerative price for produce
Important determinants/factors that can help increase farmer’s income:
- Price of seeds: Seed is the most important input as it is the carrier of scientific research and advancement in agriculture. Therefore, it is necessary that the newer seeds are affordable and accessible for the farmers. Newer varieties are high yielding and also pest and disease resistant.
- The new hybrid seeds are terminal in nature hence, buying seeds every year for farmers with increasing price (as demand increases) is not possible. Hence, scientist must develop open pollinated varieties with better yields. This will help farmers to grow seeds for their own use from the open pollinated varieties with less or minimum cost.
- Availability of seeds to public sector institutions: Hybrid varieties developed through public-funded research should be available to the public sector institutions without paying any royalty amount on a non-exclusive basis.
- Access to formal credit should be made available to all farmers: Also, Agricultural credit should be based on land holding rather than the scale of finance of crops. This will bring equity in the flow of agri-credit and infuse capital in the backward regions in the agriculture sector.
- Direct investment subsidy to the farmers: Many states have recently opted for direct investment subsidy to the farmers. This has been done on a flat area basis, without linking it to any particular input. Rather than providing cash transfer on a flat basis of the area of landholding, this direct transfer can be designed to incentivise the desired cropping pattern.
- While agricultural credit can be linked to the landholding and made crop neutral, direct investment subsidy can be linked to the cropping pattern to ensure demand-led cultivation and the judicious usage of natural resources.
- Through direct subsidy transfer, it should be possible to motivate the farmer to grow millets in a water-scarce area rather than paddy or sugarcane, which further deplete the water table.
- Allowing the leasing of land will help find out the real tiller of land and it will be possible to extend the benefits of various schemes to the real cultivator rather than the landowner.
- The unviable size of landholdings in most states: The size of landholding has decreased with some farmers holding average size of land like 0.73 ha and 0.39 ha in UP and Bihar respectively. If we take out the large farmers, then it will become obvious that most of the farmers in UP and Bihar own less than one and a half acres of land. With this landholding size, it is simply not possible to have a decent standard of living unless there are other avenues of additional income for the family.
- Therefore, affordable inputs, access to credit and formal land-leasing are some of the urgent requirements for increasing the prosperity of India’s small and marginal farmers.