Marginal Farms

The farms belonging to that group are, acconding to the local soil conditions, under 10 acres in size, often less than 5 acres and, therefore, too small to provide a family with work and subsistence. On account of the scarce amount of land, they have the highest cropping intensity. The farmers try to compensate for the lack of land by working intensively. For the same reason, these farms often have hardly any fodder growing areas. All of the land must be utilized for producing foodstuffs in order to ensure self sufficiency. The animals are fed weeds and grass which the family members collect in the village area. In this way, a great deal of work has to be invested and the fodder is often not of the best quality, but the basis of existence is thus extended. As far as smaller marginal farms are concerned, this does not suffice, and the farm operator must offer his work against payment to earn an additional income. The fact that he is bound to the marginal faun only allows him to take up work in the immediate vicinity. In most of the villages, the only opportunity is to find work as an agricultural labourer on a large farm; therefore, there is a large number of agricultural labourers who have small farms. Often, they can only find work during the peak seasons for cultivating and harvesting, and for constructing houses, etc. The underemployment rate among this group is high.

These farms are hardly integrated in the market. The farmers cultivate what they need for their own supply or as barter goods in the village. It is only when record harvests have been achieved that they have something to sell. It very often happens that the reserves are used up before the next harvest and the people have to incur debts.

This group has little opportunity of utilizing the new technology. It lacks financial means, credit, access to farm inputs, and the capacity to take risks. For these farms which produce for their own supply, the fact that new wheat varieties do not always correspond to their taste and meet with their requirements in baking quality plays a very Important role. All the same, some of them tried to have a share in the great increases in yields. However, some of them failed. The insufficient access to extension services allowed mistakes to be made. Loans were borrowed from moneylenders at high rates of interest since the banks did not grant them loans because of the great risk. They did not own plumps, and, thus, it often happened that the expenditure did not bring the expected return and the loans could not be refunded.

In the course of time, a differentiation became apparent within this group. A few of them succeeded in working their way up into the group of family farms. Inheritance, possibilities of renting additional land, efficiency, and chance played a role thereby. A much larger number became indebted and had to sell part of or all of their land. If the number of marginal farms has not decreased in spite of this, this is due to the fact that, as a result of partition due to inheritance, additional farms moved down into this group. However, it happens more and more often that this danger is parried by forgoing an actual distribution. One of the children to whom the other children lease their share of land assumes the cultivation of the land.

The participation of this group in the Green Revolution is insignificant and is often limited to better prospects of finding employment Quite a number of them even leased their land to larger farms so as to be free when looking for work, however, on the whole, the technological change meant a drop in this groups economic and social conditions.