Boosting agricultural productivity
Cooperative Farming model using Principles of Alternative Farming
Lady Brabourne College, Kolkata
Madhuparna Pandit (Coordinator)
Fragmentation of land coupled with stagnant productivity in a country even with favourable
agricultural conditions has made feeding the rising population very difficult.
Approximately 407 million Indians live below poverty line (GoI, 2009), despite the fact that half the population is
engaged directly or indirectly in agriculture for living.
Marked difference in dietary pattern between urban and rural population. Difference is also noticed between rich and
poor. As income rises, demand for high value food products rises while the poor with low income depend on cereals as
the sole food source.
Number of farming households has increased while average farm size has decreased resulting in poor participation of
about 80% farmers in India due to low productivity and considerably high production and transaction costs.
Use of several soil degrading varieties of hybrid and genetically modified (GM) seeds has lead to increased dependence
on chemical fertilizers and water for adequate production resulting in degradation of soil fertility, and salinity of soil due
to depletion of ground water respectively.
Due to low production and decreasing farm sizes, farmers are excluded from financial security systems ,like credits and
Lack of public and private investment in agriculture.
1970-71 1981-82 1991-92 2002-03
% share of agriculture and
allied sectors to total GDP (at
Average Farm Holding Size
Consumption of fertilizers
Source: Union Budget and
Stirring the Pyramid
Commission, Government of
Two farming methods are being looked into as potential solutions but each comes with a set of
disadvantages along with the desired set of advantages
Method of Farming Advantages Disadvantages
Replacing inorganic farming
practices (use of chemical
fertilizers and pesticides) with
organic farming practices (use of
organic fertilizers and
Use of traditional farming methods
and quality seeds.
Use of organic fertilizers to improve
Management of water.
Practising inter cropping and strip
Soil Degrading varieties of hybrid and
GM seed industries gain importance in
current market due to higher yield.
High cost and low availability of organic
fertilizers make organic products costly in
Subsidies on soil degrading varieties of
hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers, and
higher demand for such products
encourage farmers to practice inorganic
Forming clusters, or grouping
small land holdings, to obtain a
bigger plot of land through
cooperation among the land
Seeks cooperation between farmers to
use larger farm sizes for production.
Larger farm size provides enough
space for strip farming.
With demand for wide variety of food
products increasing, with increase in
income, yet need to produce enough
cereals to support the poor, call for the
practice of strip farming in large scale.
Exposing farmers to financial security
systems on account of the total land
size obtained through cooperation.
Reducing transaction, and
transportation cost, and increasing
In fear of loosing land, farmers are
reluctant to go for cooperation.
In cooperative farming, farmers aren’t
able to apply their innovative farming
practices that they would prefer for their
Chances of inequality and difference
between farmers arise due to absence of a
proper management system on farmland
that will track the amount of labour
contributed by each farmer.
In a democratic system, farmers can not
be forced to go for cooperation. There is
an act for cooperative farming, however
,not yet accepted by the farmers.
Lack of interest from officials involved in
registration of farmlands resulting from
Our solution is to combine the advantages of the two prevailing methods in such a way that will nullify their
Important features of the solution include:
1) Seeking cooperation between farmers without leasing out their lands in order to protect their ownership over their individual
pieces of land where farmers share the net profit among themselves on the basis of their inputs.
2) Arrangement of programs and workshops to make the farmers self sufficient by ensuring that they can at least read and
understand their legal documents.
3) Recruitment of agri-graduates for working in the workshops along with the regional and national agriculture experts from
Government and public sector industries that already work in these areas to educate the farmers about technological
advancements available for agriculture, farming practices that can provide them profit as well as encouragement to practice
cooperative farming by educating them about the benefits involved in it.
4) Legal action from Government and existing Government officials be involved in this program to ensure speedy registration of
land grouped through cooperation.
5) Practising traditional methods of farming to ensure reclamation of degraded land as well as to encourage reduced use of fertilizers
and soil degrading varieties of hybrid and GM seeds.
6) Since use of soil degrading varieties of hybrid and GM seeds is eliminated, need for huge amount of fertilizers is greatly reduced.
The money spent on purchasing huge amounts of considerably cheaper chemical fertilizers can be used to purchase much lower
amounts of expensive organic fertilizers. Thus, cost for fertilizers are maintained or probably reduced. Subsidies on organic
fertilizers must be given.
7) Increasing tax on soil degrading varieties of hybrid and GM seed production and their use to encourage farmers to go for
8) Relaxation of tax for cooperative farming to attract them to seek cooperation.
9) Provision for farmer forums headed by a panel of elected farmers (who act as representatives of all farmers), where farmers can
put forward their grievances that may arise due to cooperation and speedy justice can be obtained.
10) Organizing interactive sessions in workshops as well as local agricultural schools and institutes, where farmers are entertained to
put forward their innovative ideas. Discussion and assessment on such ideas can be done to measure their impacts. Exchange of
ideas can be achieved.
11) To obtain competitive yields traditional methods of farming must be combined with scientific developments based upon the
physical condition and soil structure of the concerned area.
12) Intensive farming must be practiced to utilize the labour force available for agriculture. Both the systems, cooperative and
individual type of production for a few years should be continued side by side. Out of final result, willing farmers may choose the
Proposed model of cooperative farming that will use the principles of alternative farming
Shelter Belts that protect
the farmland from insects
and bear fruits that add to
the net profit Inter cropping with
or crops that
restore soil fertility
land and climatic
Practice of strip
farming to ensure
the production of
a variety of crops
as well as cereals
and to prevent
spread of pest.
Fragmented lands grouped
Along with the model, rain water management, composting and other eco-friendly practices are
encouraged to obtain sustainable agricultural development.
Cooperative farming model is suggested for extremely small farm holders. Farmers with considerably larger farm
holdings are also advised to participate in cooperation. However due to larger farm size they may not need
cooperation to practice alternative and sustainable farming. However, use of organic fertilizers, quality seeds and
eco-friendly methods are strongly recommended to achieve greater yield and restoration of soil fertility.
Organic Fertilizers are no doubt much more expensive than inorganic fertilizers and are required in considerably
high amount but are easily available in our country. With reduction in imported fertilizers, subsidy for imported
fertilizers will also be reduced. So, Government can fund easily. Earlier days, Government had a plan to use
organic and inorganic fertilizers at 50:50 ratio. Our suggestion is to make it 75:25 ratio. This will maintain our
production rate, soil health and ecology. Hence cost of using and providing organic fertilizers can be adjusted
from the budget involved in importing and producing huge amount of inorganic fertilizers
Higher productivity can only be achieved if traditional farming methods are supported by recent
developments in agricultural science and knowledge on eco-friendly technologies available to the farmers.
Crop production is dependant on capital investment, land fertility, along with climatic conditions, prevailing
in a particular area. Any change in the balance, which occur occasionally may hamper productivity.
Hence, day-to-day data collection on above said items and proper analysis is imperative. Periodical survey is
must in this regard and should be done.
legal advisors and
practical knowledge. Field
Training must be given to
them from their institutes.
They should be engaged to
some particular villages for
3 years. In this process
they will impart their
knowledge of new
to the farmers. Village
level agricultural scholars
are beneficial. After proper
training, the graduates are
centrally recruited via their
preferences should be
given to farming
Practical Implementation of the proposed model can be achieved through the joint contribution
of several bodies involved in agriculture and allied sectors
Agricultural Research and Education
Survey Team Research and Development Wing Assessment Team
Makes a survey on
and soil condition in
based upon the
reports gathered by
the survey team.
farming and eco-
that would help the
farmers and the
nation as a whole.
Assesses the viability of
and whether they suit the
farming conditions and can
be beneficial over existing
practices. If the
experiments fail to serve
their purposes, they would
be returned to the
respective R &D wings. If
they serve their
purpose, the models are
taken forward to agro
industries as well as
where agri-graduates are
Large scale production in
industry by supply of
agricultural produce as
Training of graduates in agriculture who
will take part in workshops jointly
participated by the advanced farmers.
Public sector industries are
mainly requested to
contribute at initial stages.
Private sector industries
also should follow as
agriculture is a rich source
of raw materials for
industry and with increase
of purchasing power of the
farmer, market will
Workshops organized to sensitize the farmers with advanced technologies need joint contribution of officials and
persons belonging to several agricultural and allied agricultural occupations including agri-graduates
Centrally recruited agri-graduates
Agriculture experts from Government/ Universities/ICAR
Industries involved in agriculture (mainly public sector)
Legal action from Government
• Easy to recruit and employ.
• Short term of service and low salary.
• Have basic knowledge on agriculture.
• Since they lack expertise, they are to be trained before recruitment.
• Have experience in this field.
• Know how to interact with farmers.
• Concerned about the development of farmers and agriculture and the market.
• Ready to help in case of pest attack, natural calamity.
• Have experience and expertise.
• Will contribute for benefit of farmers as well as for profit.
• To acknowledge the farmers about products and technologies available in
Legal action from
•Can provide information on existing Government policies as well as subsidies and
aides given by Government.
•Required for speedy registration of cooperative lands and land to the tillers.
• Procure field product directly from the farmers at their profitable rate.
• Can provide information on laws pertaining to land documents and deeds.
• Government should introduce proper law and act, beneficial to farmers to attract
farming as a profession.
Expenditure allocated per
agri-graduate per annum
INR 700 cr/annum
We are concerned with inclusion of 10% of total villages in India in first year of implementation
Though it is ideal to allot 14% of total planned Indian budget (2013-14) for agriculture sector (see that agriculture
contributes 14.1% ,at 2004-05 prices, of GDP) in place of present 4.86%, we propose an amount of INR
45,000cr, i.e., 8.10% for the year 2013-14. State Governments may adjust further requirement to achieve the goal.
To make all farmers
technologically advanced, we
require 1,00,000 agri-
graduates in total for 10 years.
We suggest to allocate 1
agri-graduate per group of 10
In first year, we require
Wage per agri-graduate
= INR 2,40,000
INR 240 cr/annum
Processing cost for
recruiting the agri-
INR 30 lac/annum
Cost for change to organic from inorganic INR 2135000/village/annum INR 21350 cr/annum
Suggested investment for R&D wing
INR 1,000 cr/annum
Cost for setting up workshops
INR 30 lac/annum
Suggested investment for agri-inputs and machinery
INR 1,000 cr/annum
INR 20,000 cr/annum
We suggest for 1
honorarium of elected
farmers per village
Expenditure per farmer forum
INR 600 cr/annum
So far as we discussed the budgetary allocation, it is found that the said amount may easily be allotted. Only
requirement is the sincere and strong approach towards increasing agricultural productivity.
10% of 10,00,000 villages = 1,00,000 villages
For 10,000 agri-
Food is of utmost importance to maintain proper health of population. It is also said
in our constitution, Government should make arrangement so that every citizen of our
country get quality and sufficient quantity of food. So, priority in budgetary investment
should be given to agriculture and allied sectors.
Special taxation on higher income groups and companies may be imposed.
By exporting safe and organic food, and food products to the international market, we
can earn a good purse.
Special taxation on multinational companies dealing agro-business.
Investments made at initial stages
are considerably higher as the setting
up of eco-friendly systems and using
such technologies is more expensive.
In view of future sustainability of
humanity, present investment for
organic cultivation is very negligible
when we are accustomed with
millennium development goal now-a-
days. In that view also, eco-friendly
organic cultivation is the last answer.
A national consciousness in this
regard is extremely necessary.
Though effective, the model may face certain challenges during practical implementation
Probable Challenges Solutions
Initial production may be low due to use of quality seeds.
Reclamation of land as well as setting up of water
management systems takes time and capital investment.
If we go step by step, gradually increasing organic farming and
reducing hazardous chemicals along with appropriate use of
inorganic fertilizers, total production of food will be under
Lack of public interest results in lack of investments from
Field experiments will sensitize farmers. Increase in number of
field demonstration and pilot projects in each village will
sensitize farming community in favour of cooperative based
organic farming. Advertisements in websites, social network
sites, television and equivalent platforms.
Inadequate extension service from the agricultural
department and universities.
Village level agro school and institutes, block level ‘Krishi
Vigyan Kendra’, more and more agro colleges and research as
well as development facilities are must to meet this challenge.
Restoration of soil fertility and reclamation of land degraded due to various reasons can be
Import expenditure of inorganic fertilizers can be reduced by using quality seeds and organic
Almost all Indian farmers can be exposed to direct market as well as insurance and credit
Enough production can be achieved in near future to satisfy the dietary needs of the nation.
Problems involved in irrigation and shortage of water can be resolved.
Production is likely to double and can be sustained for future generations.
Acknowledging the following references:
Accelerating Agricultural Development for inclusive Growth: Strategic Issues and
Credit Inclusion, farm lease and forming clusters can help small farmers overcome
poverty much faster
Eleventh Five Year plan (2007-2012)
The World Bank
Dhaka Starting Microfinance in India
NGO Partnership System
Stirring the Pyramid
National Portal of India
Agro-processing Industries in India-Growth, status and Prospects
Continuance of interest subvention scheme, other measures to boost agriculture