Co-operative farming is quite new to India. India is a land of plenty as well, as of sheer want—of landed aristocracy and landless labour. India has stood in great need of a thorough change in the system of fanning. The fragmentation and sub-fragmentation of land is highly injurious to agrarian economy. It is essential that efforts should be made to introduce co-operative system in the field of farming. Co-operative farming means bringing together of all the land resources of the farmers in such an organized and united way that they will be collectively in a position to grow on every bit of land to the best of the fertility of the land.
Co-operative farming has become an essential feature of India’s Five-Year Plans. A ‘co-operative joint farming society’ is a society formed by small owners of land whose holdings may not in themselves be economic. Such a society can include also landless agricultural labourers who used to be engaged as tenants even before such tenants acquire title to ownership of the land under the provisions of the new tenancy law that makes the tiller the owner of the land. Under the organization of this type of society, the pooled land is cultivated by the owners including tenants jointly. Those who work on the land of the society are paid wages for their labour and those who offer their land draw a dividend known as property income on a prescribed scale. There is an elected committee and a manager who give general directions over the operations of cultivation.
If is a joint enterprise and the crops are raised jointly and the produce is also sold jointly. From the proceeds of such produce are met the various charges like payment for the use of the land, wages, cost of production and management and contribution to as reserve fund, dividend of shares and other contributions. The society plans the crop programme, purchases from requirements and effects sale to the produce. It also raises funds on the security of land crops and other assets, purchases machinery and attends to agricultural operations.
The other important type of co-operative farming is the collect-the farming society. In India, there is no state control. The Go-operative collective farming societies are subject only to the rules and bye-laws framed for all types of co-operative institutions. As a matter of fact, the co-operative farming society can be formed by landless agricultural labourers who can recur land on a leasehold or freehold basis for the purpose of cultivation.
The Co-operative Better Farming Societies are formed and run by a committee of five or more members keeping in view the size of the piece of land to be cultivated. No member loses the right of ownership of his land, but the members follow common plan of cultivation as agreed upon. Tenant Farming Societies are farmed by pooling all the land and dividing its amount to the members. These members work as a tenant of the society on the basis of a fixed rent. A common cropping plan is followed by the members and this plan is always suggested by the society. Each member cultivates his plot and sells the produce through the society.
Whether it is joint farming or collective farming on the cooperative basis, the basic idea underlying the co-operative farming is of pooling of both land and labour resources. The individual agriculturists, whether a small holder, tenant or landless agricultural laborer in our country in severely handicapped by the common factors of poverty and lack of financial resources and the small size of holding, that is always uneconomic. Add to this the vagaries of rainfall and climate which produce periodical cycle of scarcity and famine with consequent misery for the masses of agriculturists and their families.
When however, pool is formed and adequate land is secured to constitute an economic unit, the usual handicaps are removed; The collective resources of both land and labour, finances for the development of the land, facilities of irrigation, improved implements including expensive and labour-saving machinery, crop finance and credit and marketing facilities—all these could be easily recurred.
There is an immense scope for co-operative farming in India although the movement is as yet in it infancy. The progress of co-operative financing in India has been very slow. The reasons are fear of unemployment, attachment to land, lack of proper propaganda renunciation of membership by farmers and existence of take societies.
But co-operative farming can succeed only when the holdings of the members are adequate in size and therefore economic. Much depends on factors like the type and fertility of land combined with other local conditions. Also, farmers have to be coaxed into shedding the deep-seated idea of ‘sacred patrimony’.
The successful working of a co-operative organization demands that the members engaged in the enterprise should be provided with the necessary resources. In addition, they must imbibe the spirit of team-work, mutual trust and a basic loyalty to the collective enterprise. If the enthusiasm of agriculturists could be pooled and channelized in constructive and reconstructive activities with competent, wise and careful planning, we would have, in a short time, a network of efficiently functioning co-operative farming societies all over India. India is marching briskly to fulfill the dream of our great Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.