Wednesday, December 06, 2006

poor farmers: access to land

In responding to Peter Timmer in Jakarta Post (here) and recent discussion in kafe depok, I would comment on the point on the lack of agriculture land. Since the debate of rice economy mainly discusses who should play a role in food policy, the market or the state? Let step aside from it and look back to farmer’s household having tiny plot of land. What is wrong with that? It is argued that small plot brings lower yield regardless the productivity probably be higher with advance investment. It is true though. But this is not the farmers’ fault having small plot of land.

(read more here)

to conclude, if we want to improve the welfare of the poor farmers but they do have tiny plot, why dont we give them the land for doing farming?


embun said...

In the very express solution, definitely giving the farmers ‘additional’ or new plot of land maybe could improve the welfare of the poor farmers. However, I wish that would be real solution. When I said so, I don’t mean that the solution not truthful. I only thinking, after the farmers get their additional/new plot of land I believe that their welfare only increase from the size of assets they owned but not from their income side or access to credit or access to market.

Many studies suggest that bigger size of land ownership would be increase the chance to access credit market. But, we should not forget that creditor still have to concern with the possibility of credit default by farmers do to many aspects say so: bad weather, low quality of output, natural disaster, and many others. In this matter, appropriate financial institution and collateral system are main necessities to cope this issue.

Another problem with ‘land give-away’ policy is whose land to be giving up and how much. Moreover, what about the quality of the land to be giving up? We know that each plot of land has different quality of soil (read: productivity!). The former problem is political and equality issue and I really sorry that this part is out of my reach. However, regarding the later one, I guess we will back then to the issue of farm input, i.e. access to fertilizer, seeds, etc. Have we improved the access to those things? Not yet or never I guess.

My only recommendation always is trying to drive into two topics: cooperatives and non-farm sectors. Land re-distribution is good but not final solution for farmers’ welfare. Instead, the continuation of income/consumption certainty goes along with production conservation (maintaining productivity) becomes the real basis for farmers’ welfare. And, with respect to the characteristics of agricultural product, cooperatives is one of the suitable institution to promote (or Grameen Bank, would great also) and non-farm sectors is the back up during hard time of cultivation activities.

pelantjong maja said...

let's prioritize what should be done. for me access to the land should be resolved first since the main factor production is the land itself. then i kind of agree that imperfect market are very prevalent in rural areas, is the second problem to be solved. having said that, the policy would be ineffective to provide more access to credit as well as input given the fact that access to the land is still problematic.

whose land and which land? i would call for further research on land distribution if the government intends to implement this policy.

some option could be use whether state-led reform or market-based reform. pros and cons are here