2.2. 'Holdings of the Aged'

Cultural and economic considerations determine the method by which farms are transferred from father to the next generation.In most cases in the past and today father and son work together on the farm, and the son takes over when the father becomes too old. In this case, no change in farm size is necessary, perhaps only in intensity or in the number of animals inorder to adjus to the changing work capacity. Often,if there are several children,at the time of the father's death, the land is transferred to the children, usually in equal shares, but sometimes only to the sons, or daughters get only half a share. Sometimes, the eldest son gets a larger share with the obligation to support his mother and to care for the ancestors graves and family temples.

But in many other cases, the father hands over the land gradually, beginning at the wedding time of the first son to enable him to start an independent life. His piece of land is likely to be enlarged by land his wife inherits from her parents(in societies in which daughters are entitled to inherit land) and some rented-in land. As his strength decreases, the father will transfer more and more land to other children as well, but he will always retain some fields in order to be independent of his children. Here, two or more separate farms emerge out of one.

In other cases still, all sons migrate to cities while the father continues farming as long as he can. With increasing age, he rents land out to relatives or other villagers, and the children receive the rent as inheritance. Usually, they keep ownership for speculation, as security or as home for their old days. Here, also, the father will retain some land as long as possible for subsistence and independence.

Consequences of 'Holdings of the Aged'

Again, the notion of a farm where the family applies its labour and lives from the proceeds is not correct. We have no family, but an old couple(sometimes a widow with children) whose work capacity is limited. The basis of subsistence for this couple may vary widely from farm proceeds only, via charity, to remittances from its children.

The work capacity is limited and is continuously shrinking, and with it, the intensity of cultivation. No new technologies are applied, and often a considerable disinvestment takes place. The old couple's interest is not productive farming but more and more rural life in familiar surroundings and some staple food for subsistence. They continue cultivation as long as possible in the absence of any other means of security for their old days.

Implications for Agricultural Policy

'Holdings of the Aged' are hardly affected by measures of agricultural policy. Neither are the measures geared to their needs, nor do these people accept the offers made to them. Often, they are not even aware of these offers.