Tenant Farmers in India

  • IASbaba
  • November 26, 2022
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Context: Since tenant farmers do not have land ownership documents, the Central Government has excluded them from receiving PM Kisan. However, the Odisha government has included tenant farmers under the KALIA scheme.

About KALIA Scheme:

KALIA stands for “Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation”. It was launched by the Odisha government in January 2018.

  • Eligibility:
    • Small and marginal farmers, landless Agricultural households, vulnerable Agricultural households, landless Agricultural laborers, and sharecroppers (Actual cultivators) all growth is eligible under different components of the scheme.
  • Benefits:
    • Financial assistance of Rs.25,000/- per farm family over five seasons will be provided to small and marginal farmers so that farmers can purchase inputs like seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides and use assistance towards labour and other investments.
    • Financial Assistance of Rs.12500/-will be provided to each landless Agricultural Household for Agricultural allied activities like small goat rearing units, mini-layer units, duckery units, fishery kits for fishermen, mushroom cultivation and bee-keeping, etc.
    • This will particularly benefit to SC & ST population of our State.
    • The vulnerable cultivators/landless agricultural laborers will get financial assistance of Rs. 10,000/- per family per year to enable them to take care of their sustenance.
    • The vulnerable cultivator/landless Agricultural Laborers who are in old age, have a disability/disease, and are vulnerable for any other reason.

About the Odisha model:

  • The Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme facilitates the transfer of subsidies to beneficiaries’ bank accounts, but identifying the appropriate beneficiaries is complex.
  • The Odisha Government’s move stands out and should prompt every other State to adopt it.
  • The Odisha Government restricts land leasing; however, it includes tenant farmers as one of the beneficiaries to receive KALIA under the three-stage process of the unification-verification-exclusion framework.


  • Unification begins with unifying State databases with green forms.


  • Verification is done through multiple databases like the Agricultural Census, Socio-Economic Caste Census, National Food Security Act, National Population Registry, HRMS database of State government employees, bank account validation through bank databases, and de-duplication through Aadhaar.


  • The last phase excludes ineligible recipients, such as government employees, taxpayers, large farmers, and anybody who voluntarily opted out.
  • Algorithms for data integration were created by employing the concept of unification, verification, and exclusion.
  • This is a technology-led transformation to receive direct income support for tenant farmers even without having land documents.
  • So, hereafter, no State can say that tenant farmers are not eligible to receive such payments.

Restricted Agricultural Land Leasing Rights:

  • Kerala is the only State to completely prohibit leasing. Most of the other States have some exceptions.
    • For instance, Karnataka enables soldiers and seamen to lease their property, whereas Madhya Pradesh allows leasing to handicapped individuals and widows. And in Gujarat, the leasing regulations differ by area.
  • Some States allow leasing with few terms and conditions.
  • In Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana, the landlord does not get all of the lands back.
  • The landowners, therefore, have no clue what they will get when they lease out their property.
  • This puts the profitability of leasing fully contingent on external circumstances. This has caused the official land leasing market to be severely depressed.

What do the surveys indicate?

  • Based on household surveys, the Sample Survey Office estimates that 13 percent of land in India is leased.
    • However, according to the Agri Census statistics based on land records, just 0.36 percent of the land is shown as officially leased.

Plight of tenant farmers:

  • 36 percent of India’s tenant farmers were completely landless and 56 percent owned less than one hectare.
  • Across the country, over 20 percent of land holdings are farmed by tenant farmers who cannot access facilities like credit and other support services.

Impending investment:

  • Restrictive land leasing legislation has ultimately resulted in impeding investments in the agriculture sector and, thus, impacted Agri-productivity.

Adoption of model land leasing act:

  • To mitigate this disparity, States have to come forward to adopt the Model (Agricultural) Land Leasing Act proposed by NITI Aayog in 2016.
  • This Act would allow for the profitable use of fallow land and provide tenant farmers with access to credit and insurance services.

Way Forward:

  • With the PM-Kisan comprising the largest component in the agriculture budget, there is a need to address its deficiencies drawing from the experiences of Odisha’s KALIA scheme and Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu Scheme.
  • A land reforms agenda, particularly the land leasing legislations and updated land records, should receive the highest priority to increase the incomes of smallholders, tenant farmers, and sharecroppers.
  • So, the time is right for States to amend the existing laws related to land leasing for securing the rights of tenant farmers.

Source: The Hindu


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