Indian agriculture is dominated by small and marginal farmers (86%) accounting for 48% of agricultural land. These farmers are caught in a vicious trap due to fragmented landholdings.
Successful Land Reforms in states such as Kerala and West Bengal (Operation Barga) have improved socio-economic condition of marginal and small farmers:
- Abolition of intermediaries has addressed historical injustices and move towards an egalitarian society.
- Land Ceiling Acts and movements such as Bhoodan and Gramdan have promoted equity in land ownership.
- Tenancy reforms in states such as TN, AP, WB etc. have enabled marginal farmers to lease in/out land leading to consolidation of land holdings, higher occupational mobility and enhanced agricultural productivity.
- Promotion of Cooperative farming through Kudumbashree (Kerala) and Andhra Pradesh Mahila Samatha Society have enabled farmers to reap benefits of higher economies of scale.
- Land Records Modernization Programme has reduced litigations and facilitated access to institutional credit.
Land Reforms in other parts of India have not been very successful on account of Benami Transactions, loopholes in Land ceiling acts, slow progress in Digitisation of land records etc.
Hence, going forward, India should focus on Land Reforms 2.0 through transfer of surplus government land, legalizing land Leasing, organizing farmers into FPOs etc.