On Farm Size(s) and the Productivity Debate in Agriculture

On Farm Size(s) and the Productivity Debate in Agriculture
  • 1
    Share

The relationship between farm size and productivity has always caught the attention of educated and well-read agriculturists, in general, and researchers, in particular. There is a good amount of literature on farm size and productivity in smallholder agriculture as well as big holder agriculture in India, especially post-green revolution period. The research findings and the results from a linear programming farm-household model together with the series of farm survey data provide confirmation for a positive relationship between farm size and productivity in both land-scarce smallholder and labour-scarce smallholder farming in many countries during the 1980’s.
Disasters, calamities and failures in land, capital and goods markets with severe capital constraints, which affect both capital and labour inputs on smaller farms explain the nonappearance of an inverse relationship between farm size and productivity (Dorward, 1999). The changes in the land, capital and goods markets which have their impact on the factors of production explain the variations in the relationship between farm size and productivity.The inverse relation between farm-size and productivity does not reflect a supremacy of farmer production over wage-labour-based production. It is exclusive of production relations and therefore reveals only a static superiority of small‐scale production over large scale production. An essential prerequisite for this superiority, however, is technological backwardness. With the onset of technological growth and progress encompassing the introduction of chemical fertilizers, labour-saving technology and modern irrigation tools, the inverse relationship is, for that reason, likely to vanish (Ghose, 2007).
The activities or forms of land ownership or size of land holdings and the nature of relationships among landowners and land tenants are the heart and soul of the social or institutional structure of Indian agriculture (Qadri, 2018) in general and farm-size and productivity debate in particular. The activities are undertaken in the agricultural sector and the trends and patterns of land ownership in a given society is a historical cum evolutionary process. As a matter, of course, those who are the landowners command a substantial degree of power and esteem in the rural social construction and setting. It is these series of relationships among the landowners and those who provide various forms of services to the land-owning classes that we call the agrarian class structure (Dhanagare, 1983) which has a significant bearing upon the nature of the relationship between farm size and productivity. It is not wrong to say that the interactions and associations between landowners and land tillers encompass the agrarian class structure which in turn affect the bond between farm-size and productivity.
The Green Revolution refers to a series of research and the development of technological advancements that took place in between 1950 and the late 1960s that augmented agricultural production universally predominantly in the developing economies of the world (Peter, 2009). It embraced new technologies, including a high-yielding variety of seeds (HYVs) coupled with a dose of chemical fertilizers and agro-chemicals, with meticulous and well-ordered water-supply and new methods of agriculture, together with farm mechanization. It is very important to note that all of these components collectively were referred to green revolution and were perceived as a ‘ series of practices’ to take the place of ‘traditional’ technology and to be agreed and adopted on the macro level (Farmer, 1986). After the Green revolution, the relation between farm-size and productivity underwent a significant change. The post-green-revolution period finds a positive relation between farm-size and productivity instead of negative. As farm size increases, income increases more than proportionately. The green revolution in agriculture has been characterized by a technology which is capital-intensive in nature in which high yielding variety of seeds, use of chemical fertilizers, better and assured irrigation facilities play an essential role. [Saini (1979)] in order to highlight the impact of the green revolution on the inverse relation between farm-size and productivity sought help from farm level management data for the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The new technology shows a positive relation between farm-size and productivity on one hand and positive relation between farm-size and farm income per acre in the late sixties, indicating that as farm size increases, the income increases more than proportionately which will widen income inequalities in rural areas.

Conclusion:
In order to understand the relationship between farm-size and productivity, we need to revisit the extensive literature on the same. Moreover, we need to brush up our notions on productivity and technical efficiency with special reference to the size of land holding. Furthermore, we need to understand the agrarian class structure for it will help us to understand the interface between farm-size and productivity level on the one hand and farm-size and profitability on another hand.

References:
Ajit Kumar Ghose (2007) Farm size and land productivity in Indian agriculture: A reappraisal, The Journal of Development Studies, 16:1, 27-49, DOI: 10.1080/00220387908421742
Andrew Dorward (1999) Farm size and productivity in Malawian smallholder agriculture, The Journal of Development Studies, 35:5, 141-161, DOI: 10.1080/00220389908422595
Dhanagare, D.N. (1983), Peasant Movements in India, 1920-50, Delhi, OUP
Datt, R. & Sundharam, M. P. K. (2007). Indian Economy. 55th Revised Two Colour Edition. S. Chand & Company Ltd. ISBN: 81-219-0298-3.
Farmer, B. H. (1986). “Perspectives on the ‘Green Revolution’ in South Asia”. Modern Asian Studies. 20 (01): 175–199.
Hazell, Peter B.R. (2009). The Asian Green Revolution. IFPRI Discussion Paper. Intl Food Policy Res Inst. GGKEY: HS2UT4LADZD.
Qadri, Binish. (2018). Understanding Agrarian Class Structure. Kashmir Reader. Vol. 8 No. 302, 2018, page 09. Retrieved from http :// epaper .kashmir reader .net /epaper images / 06112018/06112018-md-hr-9/d22958138.jpg

The author is a Research Scholar at the Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir, anAcademic Counsellor, IGNOU STUDY CENTRE 1209,S.P. College, Srinagar. She is also Editor in EPH – International Journal of Business and Management Science & Asian Journal of Managerial Science, an Ezine Articles Expert Author and the IJRULA title awards, 2018 winner (Best Researcher, 2018). She can be reached at: qadribinish@gmail.com