2.4 PRESENT LAND TENURE PROBLEMS
A brief look at the essential problems with which the agrarian
structure and agrarian reforms in South Asia have to deal
today should orientate itself on the priorities in the rural
and agricultural development in this region. Even if this
is a subjective viewpoint, it seems that three tasks should
be given utmost priority within the framework of rural development
in South Asia.
Increasing agricultural production
The chronic shortage of food in South Asia not only brought
misery to many people but was also considerably detrimental
to the development process on account of import requirements
and the resulting dependencies. Even if, at the moment, India
has solved her most crucial problems after a few good harvests
and with the help of the technological changes which took
place in the last years, one should be aware that the supply
situation is still unstable. One or two insufficient amounts
of rainfall during the monsoon can completely change the picture.
The higher costs of farm inputs as a result of the increases
in the price of petrolem are very likely to influence the
capacity of agriculture to produce foodstuffs at reasonable
prices. Moreover, the large population increase and the growing
income, not for the whole of the population, it is true, but
for large groups, causes demand effects, especially for high
Better utilization of rural labour
Increased production may be able to make an insufficient
supply of food disappear from national statistics, but It
does not suffice to guarantee the supply of food for the whole
population. It brings food onto the market but not into the
houses of the poor people who lack money to buy this food.
Their poverty is primarily the result of the lack of job opportunities
which world give them an income and, thus, purchasing power.
Because non agricultural job opportunities grow only very
slowly and the population increases constantly, as many people
as possible have to find employment in agriculture. It is
true that there are limits in that sector, but they are far
from having been reached. Institutional factors prevent, first
and foremost, more labour from being employed in agriculture.
The same applies to opportunities for employing people who
are not needed in agricultural production for developing the
More social and economic equality for the rural population
The present unequal distibution of economic and political
power is not only responsible for the unbalanced participation
of the population in development until now, and for widening
the gap between the poor and the rich in the rural areas.
This process led to a polarization of the social groups which
annihilates the prospects of cooperation in efforts towards
achieving economic and social development. But only on the
basis of more equality would it be possible to create the
political climate in which incentives to increase production
and employment can be achieved and maintained.
The three above mentioned priorities for rural development
in South Asia are not goals which exclude each other, but
which are compatible if the institutional preconditions exist.
However, these preconditions, just as agricultural production,
employment of labour, and equality, are strongly marked by
the agrarian structure. The agrarian structure and the changes
made in it will determine whether and how far development
will be achieved to the benefit of the whole rural population.
This raises the question of the necessary agrarian reform.
Land ownership reform should be mentioned first. Even if
there has been considerable redistribution of land, especially
in India, quite a lot remains to be done. However, the emphasis
is laid less on the real redistribution of landed property.
There are no "appropriate" farm sizes for all agricultural
functions. The distribution of the power of disposition over
means of production of whatever kind and the severance of
landed property from economic and political power are more
significant than land redistribution in the old style.
Increasing agricultural productivity, at first regarding
area, and then labour, will steadily become more important
than land redistribution. This will raise the question of
the social organization in agriculture and of the organization
of the farm units. The agrarian organization which is required
is one which
- encourages a combination of production factors which is
compatible with their availability and with the costs
- creates incentives for productive labour performance,
capital formation, and investments and this for all the
members of the rural society.
To create the preconditions for this will be the major task
for the agrarian structure and agrarian reform policy in the
future. This includes access to the necessary services for
everyone so that everybody can contribute towards the objective
of increasing production. There is no doubt that this will
not be possible alone on the basis of the existing service
institutions but requires the development of new organization
forms. In this connection, small farmer, tenant, and agricultural
labourer associations which support their interests against
other groups are also important.
Moreover, the agrarian structure must be changed in such
a way that incentives for labour performance and investment
develop for all the various groups among the rural population.
Until now, such incentives have been mostly individually beneficial
for a limited stratum of people. It should be examined how
incentives could be developed for the other members of agrarian
societies and whether they can be orientated towards group
interests and benefits. Thus, for example, capital formation
functions on individual farms, but, at the village or regional
level, where family relations no longer exist, problems crop
up. Is it possible to create organization forms which would
allow the underemployed to be employed in developing the infrastructure
or allow the absorption of surpluses in order to develop non-
An organization of agriculture which allows an increased
labour input can also include the integration of animal husbandry
on the farms and, thereby, simultaneously improve income and
food. The question of appropriate organization forms is still
Finally, the question arises as to whether changing conditions,
especially the growing population pressure, do wt necessitate
a change in the systems and in the organization of land management.
Until now, in South Asia, cooperation has prevailed in agriculture,
primarily in the services. The success, however, varied. Can
success also be achieved through cooperation in production?
One can imagine that forms of joint land management and animal
husbandry could bring new aspects, especially for the employment
of labour. Surely, some of the models have been politically
tainted, but they should be examined from a non ideological
viewpoint, and one should keep in mind that production under
supervision, e. g., the Gezira project in Sudan and the agrarian
reform cooperatives in Egypt, and other models also figure
among those. All these models should be examined on the basis
of multiple criteria, e.g., production and market performance,
capital formation, employment, equality, participation, adaptability
to innovations, etc.
Finally, the growing differentiation between the regions
constitutes one of the problems of man land relations. Regions
which cause, problems are the stagnating zones, especially
the non-irrigated areas. On account of increasing regional
differentiation, more and more laws and measures can no longer
be applied to whole countries but must be specified regionally.
The nature of the problems of agrarian structure mentioned
here-changes in the disposition of production means, access
to services, incentives for production, and forms of joint
land cultivation and animal husbandry-shows that, more and
more, changes in the agrarian structure are not problems of
single, non-recurring agrarian reforms, but rather demand
a lasting and continuous agrarian and development policy.
It is a question of expediency whether the measures should
be carried out in small doses or bundled into a "reform!"