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
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.