The average size of holdings has shown a steady declining trend over the last three decades. What are the challenges faced by farmers due to fragmentation of land? What needs to be done in this regard?

Introduce briefly declining trend of land holding size as well as current scenario in this regards.
Mention the challenges faced by farmers due to fragmentation of land.

Provide some suggestions to resolve the given challenges.
Discuss some steps taken by government in conclusion.
As per Agriculture Census 2015-16, the average size of operational holding has declined to 1.08
hectare in 2015-16 as compared to 1.15 hectare in 2010-11. The small and marginal holdings (<2 ha) now constitute 86%, while the large holdings (>10 ha) are merely 0.57% of the total land holdings.
High population pressure, decline of joint family system, increasing indebtedness and conversion of agricultural land to other uses are some of the reasons behind this fragmentation.
Challenges faced by farmers due to fragmentation of land:

Low productivity: Small and fragmented landholdings are suitable for subsistence agriculture, where farmers are forced to use age-old labour-intensive techniques. This decreases the productivity of land and in turn lack of investment for increasing productivity.
Difficulties in modernisation: Use of improved agricultural practices e.g. use of tractors, micro-irrigation techniques, etc. becomes
uneconomical in small landholdings.
Wastage of land: There is wastage of land in boundaries and fencing.
Indebtedness: As per Economic Survey-2016-17, there is an inverse relationship between indebtedness and the size of land holding. In Bihar and West Bengal, more than 80% of agricultural households with marginal landholdings are indebted.
Disputes over boundaries: Small fragmented lands become one of the major cause of complaints related to boundary disputes.
Overall, it makes farmers prone to all sort of agricultural risks including Production risks, Climatic risks, Price risks, Credit risks, Market risks, and Policy risks.

Measures to resolve these issues:
Consolidation of land holdings: Land holdings can be consolidated by promoting land leasing (to ensure security of tenure to tenants), land pooling of smaller lands.
Promoting collective farming: Small farmers can be nudged to undertake cooperative farming, form Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) etc.
Economic viability of farms: The economic viability of smaller landholdings can be improved by promoting mixed farming, cooperative farming and crop diversification through high value crops.
Delineation of farms: To bring more clarity on farm boundaries and titles, digitization and modernization of land records should be promoted.
Easing pressure on farmland: The land-man ratio of the landholdings can be improved by
providing alternate economic opportunities through urban growth to attract rural migrants,
promotion of non-farm activities etc.
Few steps like Model Contract Framing Act 2018, promotion of food processing industries, adoption of low-cost farm technologies etc. have been taken keeping an eye on problems due to small land holdings in India.


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