In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Features of Cooperative Joint Farming 2. Advantages of Cooperative Joint Farming 3. Disadvantages 4. Future in India.
Features of Cooperative Joint Farming:
We describe below the important features of cooperative joint farming:
1. Recognition of the Right of Ownership:
Member of a cooperative joint farming retain the ownership of their land even they surrender it for joint cultivation. And in fact, this is the feature of the cooperative society which promotes them to join them cooperative society without any hesitation.
In the villages, especially in poor, under developed countries, land is the most important symbol of social status and will be willing to cultivate the land jointly with other and benefit from such a joint cultivation provided the ownership of land and the resultant social status remain, intact. A member, as we have already stated, can withdraw from this society and resume the cultivation of his land whenever he so desires.
2. Voluntary Membership:
Another factor which encourage farmers to become a member of a cooperative joint farming society in the voluntary membership of the society. There is no compulsion for a farmer to join the society and there is no compulsion to continue to be its members on a permanent basis.
A member can withdraw from the society at any time, he so likes. Absence of an element of compulsion is likely to leave only those members with the society who believe in cooperative principles and who are loyal to the society.
3. Democratic Management:
Office bearers of a cooperative society, unlike the management in case of capitalistic farm or a state farm or collective farmers are elected democratically on the basis of one man-one vote. The cooperative principle give one vote to each individual member, irrespective of the area of land or amount of the productive assets contributed by him.
Such a procedure obviously is conducive to social equality and is likely to encourage the willing participation of all members in the affairs of the society irrespective of their economic status. Another feature of the democratic management of the society is that if the member in general are unhappy with the performance of any office bearer, they can vote him out of the office.
4. Distribution of Rewards According to Contribution:
In order to attract both large and small farmers to it and also ensure fairness to all member, the society pays to various members on the basis of the contribution in terms of land and labour made towards the working of the society.
There are generally two types of payment made to the members of the society; one as wages for the labour contributed towards cultivation and other activities of the society and the other as profit for the land pooled for joint cultivation. It is not necessary that the member who has pooled his land for cultivation should also work on the land.
5. Provision of Social Services:
Though the cooperative farming society is basically organized for carrying on various operations on and in connection with the pooled land, it also performs various other jobs to promote general welfare of its members. It arrange for the education for the children of its members.
Arranges for health care and for general entertainment of course, these are ancillary services and their provision depends upon the resources of each individual society. Provision of such services encourages the members of the society to be more loyal to it and thus works for its greater stability.
Advantages of Cooperative Joint Farming:
Cooperative joint farming, has many advantages when compared with some other forms of farming system.
Some of these advantages are as follows:
(i) Increase in the Size of the Holding:
When the members agree to pool their land for joint cultivation on a cooperative basis, it will obviously result in the increase in the size of the operational holding. This will be despite the fact in official records, still belongs to different individuals.
A larger size or the holding leads to many advantages. Various improvement in land, like drainage fencing leveling and raising of embankment, digging of well etc. can be profitably undertaken when the size of the farm is increased. The average cost of improvements per acre and therefore, per rupees of output falls when the land is pooled to form a bigger holding.
Roads and buildings on the farm occupy a relatively smaller portion of land when the size of the farm increases, thus reducing the per acre cost of such developmental activities. Sophisticated and costly machinery can be purchased for the bigger unit of cultivation, not only because such farm can financially afford to purchase such a machinery but also because it can fully utilize it.
Various other economies of large scale production can also be reaped on such a farm. For instance farm begins to enjoy financial economies. Not only does the operation of bigger farm meant larger savings in the aggregate, it also becomes easy for the cooperative farming societies to get financial assistance from outside sources.
In the same way bulk purchase of physical inputs results in savings due to concessional rates. Marketing of a larger amount of crops increases the bargaining power of the seller and thus saves him (the society in this case) from undue exploitation by the unscrupulous functionaries of the market.
(ii) Use of Non-Traditional Inputs:
Use of non-traditional inputs like seeds, fertilizers and insecticides in agriculture is a must if it is to be transformed into a modern agriculture. Many of such inputs, however, are quite costly and their use necessitates expenditure.
A cooperative farming society is in a position to purchase these inputs. Not only do its savings go up as a of result of economies of large scale production that it comes to enjoy but also, it can easily borrow funds from outside at concessional rates.
(iii) Increase in Output:
Output on a cooperative farm is likely to increase even when the same technology as was being used by its members, is used for production. This is due to more land being released due to the disappearance of old boundaries and embankments, found in the holding of each member of the society. However, as indicated above, the technology used is likely to improve after a larger farm comes into existence due to the formation of a cooperative farming society.
(iv) Social Justice and Cohesion:
We have earlier described some important features of a cooperative farming society. All these features encourage social equality and social justice. The management is elected democratically on the basis of one member-one vote.
The voluntary membership of the society and freedom to withdraw from it eliminates the element of compulsion for its participation something which is resented by every individual. Association of rewards with contribution in terms of land and labour eliminates the element of exploitation and unfairness from the operation of the society. All the features of the cooperative farming society thus work for balanced and smooth relations among its members.
(v) Provision of Social Services:
Members of a cooperative farming society not only benefit monetarily from its membership but also enjoy some other advantages. The society provides various services like educational facilities, health care and entertainment to its members. The society is able to render these services to the members out of its additional earnings. By rendering these services, the society is able to ensure the loyalty of its members towards itself.
(vi) Carrying of Off-Farm Activities:
The activities of a cooperative farming society are not confined to the purchase of inputs, on-farms activities and the sale of agricultural crops only. There are some allied activities which are not strictly agricultural activities, but which can be profitably undertaken by the society.
An individual farmer is not able to take up these activities on his own because the cost involved in these activities are quite high. These activities are in the form of various processing like rice shelling, gur marketing etc. Such activities not only provide additional income to the members of the society but also generate more employment opportunities for the members, some of whom may become unemployed due to use of machinery on the cooperative farm.
Research is again another activity which may not be undertaken by an individual because of high costs for carrying on such an activity. A cooperative farming society can spare a part of its income for carrying on research in various aspects of the techniques of cultivation and allied activities.
(viii) Closer Contact of The Farmers with the Government:
The government on many occasions, needs the help of the farmers in giving effect to its various policies. The cooperative farming society can serve as very good instrument for not only disseminating information about these policies but also, for implementing such policies at the farmers level.
For example, services of cooperative society can be used for distribution of various improved inputs to the farmers. It is easier to deal with a society than with the individual farmers.
In-fact, one of the objection of the political level against the cooperative farming society is that government can ultimately fully control and interfere with the decision making process of the farmers with regard to production, by taking over the cooperative farming society itself. In their view, cooperative farming is the first step towards the formation of a collective farmer a state farm.
Disadvantages of Cooperative Farming:
There are other disadvantages of cooperative farming which are described below:
(i) Fear of Unemployment:
It is pointed out that there is every possibility that the total number of workers employed on individual farms taken together may come down after the owners of these farms, organize themselves into a cooperative farming society. Many reason are given for this assertion. It is pointed out, for example, that on a large farms, use of machinery becomes possible. This will displace some labour.
It is further pointed out that the members and the worker of these family becomes like hires workers on the cooperative farm. The manager of the cooperative farm treating them as such will employ them only upon the point where their marginal productivity will become equal to the prevailing wages.
This will obviously mean less employment of the workers when compared with the situation when each worker of the family is treated as a free of cost labour (as in the case of a family farm) and is employed up to the point where its marginal productivity is equal to zero.
There are however, economists who do not accept these argument. They feel that in the first instance, use of machinery, even if it is used for the farm, is completely optional. The members know their own interests. And if they feel no labour should be displaced, they may decide, not to use the machinery.
Secondly, there may not be real unemployment after the cooperative farm comes into existence. There is significant level of disguised unemployment in agriculture of various economies. On a cooperative farms such a disguisedly unemployed labour may become openly unemployed. Khusro and Aggarwal put forth another argument to conclude that there should be no fear of unemployment after a cooperative farm comes into existence.
They say that the concept of cooperative farming is not static in character. After a cooperative farming society comes in to existence, it can take up many activities other than cultivation proper and generate new opportunities for employment. Wells can be dug up. Various other developmental activities on a farm like fencing drainage construction of a farm house etc. can also absorb some more labour.
Use of non-traditional inputs may necessitate more labour. Various off-farm activities like process of agricultural products e.g. rice shelling, gur making etc. can also create more jobs. In their view thus there are no chances of net displacement of labour after a cooperative farm comes in to existence.
ii. Bureaucratic Interference:
As per the principles of cooperative, cooperative farming is voluntary- association, organized independently by the farmers to promote their own interest and to avoid exploitation at the hands of some unscrupulous members of the community. However its independence is in name only.
From its very- inception, a cooperative farming society starts being pressurized and directed by the bureaucracy in its day to day working, this is simply because all the facilities and concessions which a cooperative farming society enjoys, either flow directly from the officials of the government department or in other cases, through their help.
The bureaucracy, in theory is only expected to guide the society in its day-to-day working. In practice however, it only direct the society to work according to its whims because of the privileged position it enjoys.
iii. Difficulties in Distribution of Rewards:
We have earlier pointed out that there is a fairness in the distribution of rewards for the services rendered by the individual members and for their contribution of land and other productive assets. However, this fairness is in theory only.
At the practical level there are difficulties in ensuring justice in payment to various members for their contributions. For example, land is of different nature and its standardization presents a lot of difficulties.
Same is the case with the nature of labour put in. Different operations of agriculture need different levels of skills and the members generally resent the criterion’ (whatever it may be) used for determining wages for different operations.
iv. Love for Land:
Love for land is responsible for the unstable existence of the cooperative farming society. Land is not only a source of living for an individual farmer but is also a symbol of status for him. The farmer is therefore, unwilling to surrender its ownership an against.
Pooling of land, at least, means surrendering its possession, if not the ownership of land too, should pass on to somebody if some problem arises with regard to the work in co-operative farming society. As such he will like to withdraw from the society at the very first inkling of an unsatisfactory workings of the society.
v. Lack of Responsibility:
Member of cooperative society work jointly on a cooperative farm and we know, in joint adventures, every body’s responsibility is no body’s responsibility. This is especially so in case of farming when the area of operation for a worker is very large and supervision cannot be very effective. One may not work devotedly and then blame others for poor result.
No doubt the ownership of land is still with the members in a cooperative farming society, still the incentive to work is weakened, not only because his work can benefit other members but also because, part of the earnings of the farm are not disturbed among members on the basis of ownership of land. This part, he earns only as worker and obviously his behaviour as a worker is not different from that of any other worker.
Future of Cooperative Joint Farming in India:
At the outset, we many point out that cooperative joint farming has no future in India under the present circumstances. The most important indicator in this regard is the progress of cooperative joint farming society in India. So far, the progress has been very unsatisfactory.
It was only during the first three plans that the government tried to encourage the formation of cooperative societies. However, most of the societies organized through such an encouragement turned out to be fake societies, meant mainly to extract some concessions from the government.
Since 1974, there has been no progress so far as the formation of cooperative farming societies is concerned. The main reason for this lie in the disadvantage from which the cooperative farming societies suffer. Besides this, Otto Schiller gives another reason for the unsatisfactory progress of cooperative farming societies of India.
According to him, these societies flourish in new settlement like Israel where attitude of the village people towards each other are not hardened. Cooperative for any type, according to him, do not succeed in areas where there are strong likes and dislikes on the part of the individual towards each other and these strong likes and dislikes do get developed in old settlements, with the passage of time.
Otto Schiller suggest in such settlement only cooperative better farming societies can be successful. Following his suggestions one can say that in India, one may continue with the existing system of peasant farming and supplement it with cooperative better farming societies. Many economists feel that this will be the best forms of a farming system in India.