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Farming Practices in India: Top 3 Types


The following points will highlight the three types of farming practices that exist in India. They are: 1. Peasant Proprietorship 2. Tenant Farming 3. Co-Operative Farming

Type # 1. Peasant Proprietorship:

In India, agriculture is more a means of live­lihood than a commercial proposition. Most farm­ers carry on agricultural activities for subsistence rather than for making money.

They grow mainly food crops for maintaining themselves and their family members. Those who cultivate their own land either with family labour or with hired work­ers are called peasant proprietors.


They consume a portion of their output and sell the surplus, if any. The surplus is called marketed surplus. They sell the extra output selling the surplus to buy other things from the market. Sole proprietors are the owners of their own plots of land. So they take all the risk associated with farming. In case of crop failure they suffer. But if there is bumper crop they enjoy the benefit of more revenue.

They do not pay any rent to landowners because they do not cultivate the land of others. But they borrow money and they have to pay interest after selling their surplus output in the market. Most small and marginal farmers are of this type—called sole pro­prietorship. If they do not have sufficient land they also cultivate others’ land. It is because by culti­vating their own land they cannot grow enough food to maintain themselves. At the same time, if one of the several plots of land of a tenant farmer is located at a distant place he may lease it out i.e., give someone else the right to cultivate it.

This is why it becomes necessary to draw a distinction between land ownership and operational holding:

Operational Holding:

Owned land + leased- in-land – leased-out-land. Holders of medium and large plots are also sole proprietors. They take the help of hired workers to cultivate their land. Most family members of rich farmers do not directly take part in cultivation. They depend on wage-labour for the purpose.

Type # 2. Tenant Farming:

Some landowners cannot cultivate the owned land. They lease-out their land. The landless farm­ers cultivate land owned by others and pay rent in exchange (i.e., for enjoying the right to use land). Those who cultivate land of others against rent payment are called tenant farmers or simply ten­ants.

Three types:


Tenants are of three types:

(1) Occupancy tenants;

(2) Tenants-at-will and


(3) Sub-tenants.

1. Occupancy Tenants:

Such tenants en­joy permanent and heritable rights on land. They have security of tenure. They can often claim com­pensation from the landlord for any important change effected on the land (such as spread of irri­gation facilities or application of chemical ferti­lisers).

2. Tenants-at-will:

In contrast, tenant-at- will does not have security of tenure and can be evicted from land whenever the landowner so de­sires.

3. Sub-tenants:

The position of sub-tenants is similar to those of tenants-at-will. However, there is one difference between them and tenants-at-will. While the latter are appointed by the landlords, sub-tenants are appointed by the occupancy ten­ants.

Before independence, the practice of culti­vate by tenants became widely prevalent. Most tenants were exploited in various ways. In order to stop the exploitation of the tenants (the actual till­ers of the soil) and pass on the ownership of land to them various land reform measures were intro­duced in the post independence period.

Two main objective such reforms are:


(1) abolition of inter­mediaries and

(2) tenancy reforms.

Tenancy reforms include three important measures:

(1) Regulation of rent (or fixation of fair rent);


(2) Ensuring security of tenure (so that ten­ants cannot be evicted at will);

(3) Giving owner­ship rights to tenants.

Type # 3. Co-Operative Farming:

Co-operative farming was introduced in In­dia to solve the problem created by sub-division of holdings. The idea is that farmers having small holdings join heads and pool their land for the purpose of cultivation. In India, 78% of holdings are below two hectares and 32.2% of total oper­ated area is under them. Cultivation of such small farmers is not profitable. At most they can provide a means of subsistence to the farmers.

However, if small and marginal farmers pool their land re­source, implements etc. and cultivate big plots of land jointly they can derive the benefits of large- scale farming. This is the whole idea behind co­operative farming. Various recommendations have been made during India’s first three five year plans to encourage co-operative farming.


In fact, co-operative farming has been an integral part of India’s agricultural development programmes during the plan period. This why the government offered vari­ous incentive and facilities for the development of co-operative societies such as financial assist­ance, subsidy, technical assistance, preference in the supply of improved seeds, fertilisers and other materials.

However, the progress of such farming has not been satisfactory. Their management did not have the necessary professional skill and willing role to do the work effectively. Inefficient admi­nistration combined with corrupted practices de­stroyed the confidence of the members of the soci­ety. Thus there was reverse trend in operation— break up of the society and the reversal to indi­vidual farming. We will now discuss this topic in detail.

Co-operative farming refers to farming op­erations which are carried on by individuals on their own holdings, but certain common agencies for the purchase of seeds and equipment’s—as also for the sale of agricultural produce—are estab­lished on their behalf. This definition accords with co-operative farming societies in India.

In some situations the term is used to refer to “co-operative holding of the land with cultivation on individual holding as before. The individuals hold their plots of land on payment of a rent to their own co-opera­tive society.” In India, such a description is given for co-operative tenant farming societies.

In the true sense of the term, co-operative farming should refer to a type of farming in which the operations of farming are carried out co-operatively. To ensure this it is essential that small indi­vidual holdings are merged into a common pool and the joint farm is managed in a cooperative fashion.

In co-operative joint farming, individu­als retain their ownership on their respective plots of land and the income of the farm is distributed among the members. The share of each member is determined on the basis of the size and value of his plot as also the other factors contributed.


This type of farming is quite different from co-operative collective farming which is found in socialist countries. In the latter, individual owner­ship of land disappears completely. Moreover, all other resources (such as ploughs or pump-sets) are also pooled together. But the income of the farm is distributed among the members on the basis of work done for the farm. It is managed by a committee elected by all its members who voluntarily join the farm. We may now refer to the advantages and disadvantages of co-operative farming.

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