3.A. Effects of Rural Development Activities on Land Tenure Categories

In recent years, Integrated Rural Development (IRD) projects have been launched in Pakistan. While certain differences exist among these projects, as each province experiments to find the best approach under its given circumstances, they all focus on assuring welfare to small farmers and landless people who have been bypassed by previous development programmes. This chapter attempts to analyse the effect of the main activities of these projects on the different land tenure categories.

So far, the greatest attention has been paid to the formation of cooperatives by the markaz staff, and in fact the number of cooperatives has greatly increased. The question is whether this is authentic cooperative development and whether it assures the participation of the small peasant. According to all experiences gained, it is unlikely that the functions of cooperatives (quality of performance, level of acceptance and participation, etc.) will remain unaffected by tenure groups, and interviews suggest the same as regards cooperatives in the markazes.4/

It is usually the group of landlords and small landlords who dominate the institution which is what one can expect when an institution is designed to supply scarce strategic farm essentials like fertilizer, etc. For instance, financing the supply of fertilizer to a particular cooperative is invariably arranged through the courtesy of an individual or a group of large farmers for the basic reason that the share capital of the society is seldom large enough to allow payment of the consignment. For lack of formal recognition, the institution cannot take advantage of loans offered by the cooperative bank. His courtesy ensures to the landlord a superior role in the functions and activities of the cooperative. Cooperative officials do not hesitate to connive with the large landowners in facilitating the formation of a cooperative society which gives them control of the activities. One can easily find cooperatives with a membership consisting of an influential landlord, his relatives and servants, inhere are cases in which the share price is purposely raised from Rs 15 to Rs 100 5/ which eventually means elimination of the small fanner from participation. Such manipulations are likely to be more the rule than the exception. In view of the overall shortage of supplies, the cooperative cannot ensure sufficient supplies to everyone; therefore, the big landowner is likely to assume control to ensure that his requirements are satisfied. The system seems to be more suited to the large landowner who, however, does not need it. He does not depend on the cooperative for supply as the private sector is well designed to meet his needs.

The category of family owner-operators (including the tenants of better standing and some of the marginal owner-operators) will draw a greater benefit therefrom. They are the category which depends most on cooperation, and at the same time the cooperative is designed mostly to meet the requirements of this type of farmer. They are too small to operate successfully within the private sector, but are dependent on inputs, credit and marketing arrangements. However, the fact that landlords are taking advantage of the cooperative services makes it likely that this group will only receive whatever is left after the landlords' interests have been satisfied. To what extent the requirements of the family owner-operators are met depends on the supply still available after the landlord's demand has been taken into consideration, (in the Shadab project area, e.g. 10 percent of the farmers own more than 50 acres but command 50 percent of the farm area.)

Benefits to small marginal owner-operators from cooperatives organized in the markazes are likely to be rather meagre. In their case, lack of funds and risk-taking ability hinders the application of inputs. They have little need of marketing services as they consume most of their produce, and the little surplus is usually exchanged locally in barter trade. The cooperative still has to develop devices to grant credit to this category of peasants.

The tenants-at-will are even less likely to make much use of the cooperative. To a certain extent their input requirements depend on the landlord's decision on how much to uset and marketing is usually done by him as well. For their credit requirements, mostly for consumption needs, there is little provision in the current cooperative system so that they are more or less left to the merchant, as has always been the case.

The landless labourers remain outside the cooperative system as long as non-agricultural aspects are included in the activities.

In short, the type of activities of the cooperatives which are concentrated on supply, marketing and credit has a bias to benefit the categories of large farmers, while the marginal farmers, tenants—at—will and landless, forming together more than two-thirds of all rural households, are more or less left aside. The cooperatives will have to change the emphasis of their activities if they are to be instrumental in improving the situation of these categories.

In principle, the rural credit market has been greatly improved by the IRDP. Not only does the cooperative system engage in credit activities, but the IRDP has brought the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to the markaz headquarters, and commercial banks are becoming active in agricultural credit as well. The question remains, how far has the small farmer been taken care of by the cooperatives and by the Development Assistant as the contact agent? To be sure, it is not only the landlord who gets credit. The family owner-operators' financial needs are taken care of as well. But if one goes down the ladder, one comes to those categories which, because of their small equity resources, are placed at the end of the receiving line. The practice of ensuring payment by combining credit with marketing will result in discrimination of those who have little to market because most of their produce is used for home consumption. It must be admitted that such conditions make the marginal farmers very risky debtors, but one can argue that leaving their needs unsatisfied means asking them to approach the moneylender or substitute family labour for the modern inputs they cannot afford. On the other hand, experience shows that repayment rates are relatively high among smallholders, while it is often the big man who believes himself powerful enough to evade timely repayment. The relative disadvantage of smallholders will become more crucial as degeneration of improved varieties require a renovation of seeds every two or three years. This will involve cash expenditure he may not be prepared for. In general, effective use of credit is a function of supply of inputs at the right time and in the right quantity. As long as this is not guaranteed disturbances are likely to follow. Since the cooperative staff has a heavy workload, there is a tendency to prefer the categories which offer lower risk and require less work to handle, i.e. the larger farms, while the rest, comprising almost 75 percent of all households, is unlikely to receive much attention regarding their credit needs. ADB and private banks are even more likely to apply a selective credit policy.

Much has already been said about the supply and marketing activities. Landlords are likely to secure their share in inputs, the supply of which is limited, while for marketing, they do not depend on the activities of the cooperative. The family owner-operators and tenants of better standing are likely to profit from these activities while neither the marginal owner-operators and tenants-at-vri.ll nor the landless labourer will be much affected. Even if they have to sell small quantities Beyond the amount usually exchanged for daily necessities at the village shop, they are like!" to prefer a private trader who will pay cash and thus meet their most urgent reqirements. The price difference involved in selling small quantities to private traders is one factor in the increasing inequalities in income, which, in turn, influences motivation, employment and level of production.

Besides the formation of cooperatives, agricultural extension work is the activity accorded most attention by the project managers and the development assistants. First, there is an open question as to whether the priority given to extension activities is justified at all. One sometimes wonders what young college graduates have to offer to the farmers. Convincing them of the advantage of fertilizer inputs is not necessary as peasants are already convinced. Their problem is to get the fertilizer in time. Besides, the conventional extension approach is highly biased in favour of landlords and Larger farmers. For years, extension staff have been trained to begin with the "progressive" farmer who is able to take risks and who is a leader, i.e. with the man who needs least help. The masses of small peasants are expected to learn from the good example of the early adopter, the progressive farmer who, invariably, is a small landlord. The infrastructural conditions and the existing social pattern add to this bias and, in most cases, the extension worker on a village visit ends up at the influential peoples' farms, discussing matters over a cup of tea. If the same assistant is involved in the distribution of inputs, the circle is closed. The extension worker is not to be blamed for this situation. The prevailing target approach almost requires him to work with the big man.

Summarizing the discussions of this chapter, it can be said that the activities which are the bulk of the current Integrated Rural Development Programme are of benefit to landlords and family owner-cultivators, and that the former of these categories is likely to take over the control of institutions. Marginal owner-cultivators, tenants-at-will and landless labourers have little use for the kind of activities offered and are less likely to get their share. In percentage terms, the scheme is designed to have an impact on 25 percent of all rural households, while 75 percent are marginal or not influenced. This is not to say that they do not need a cooperative organization and technical assistance. But the activities of the cooperative system and the way they are implemented are heavily biased in favour of the prosperous part of the rural population.


4/ Centre of IRDP activities for an area of 50 - 60 villages.
5/ In 1973 Rs9-93 equalled US$1.00