Why India needs a land leasing framework

PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) is one of the largest income support schemes for smallholder farmers in the world. A targeted support to the agriculture sector is always a welcome move. However, the initiative does not cover landless agricultural laborers or sharecroppers/tenants, thanks to the unavailability of credible records. According to the 2010-11 Agriculture Census, there are 138.35 million farmholdings in India, of which 92.8 million are marginal (<1 ha) and 24.8 million are small (1-2 ha). Even though small and marginal farmers account for more than 85% of total farm holdings, their share in operational area is only 41.2%. About 1.5 million-2 million new marginal and small farmers are added every year due to the law of inheritance. The predominance of smallholders demonstrates their importance in the agriculture policy landscape. In addition, agricultural landless laborers, pastoralists, fishermen, and sharecroppers/tenants/lessee cultivators contribute equally to agricultural growth and deserve special attention.

Photo: Ray Witlin/World Bank