- What is meant by “Fragmentation of land”?
- What is the smallest size of farm that can be worked economically?
- How does collective farming succeed?
- A result of experiments in Russia.
We have often heard the expresion, “Fragmentation of Land” in our country. For many years, under Muslim law, it has been ther custom to divide a man’s land according to shares between all his heirs when he dies. This means that a fairs-sized estate is divded up, and then sub-divided in the next generation, till we have a large number of independent owners trying to make a living out of very small estates. It is a common thing to find a man and his family trying to make a living from the cultivation of two acres, or even less. This may give a very bare livelihood, and such a man is better off than a labourer who has no land of his own, but works for a large land-owner.
Opinions differ as to the smallest size of farm which can yield a good living to a single family. It has been estimated at six acres for Pakistan, out of course it will depend very much on the quality of the land. In practice, every peasant’s ambitionis to own his larid. In Russia at the time of the revolution, there were a number of big estates in the possession of largescale land-owners called Kulaks. The laborer’s ore those estate hoped that the estates would be broken up to give each of them a small plot of land.
Instead the Soviets kept up the large estates as Government nationalized farms, under a manager, while the peasants were kept as workers. The only difference for them was that they became laborers for the State instead of for their original landlords. They have still no chance of owning land.
In some ways, this system has points to recommend it. If a large number of tiny holdings are combined into one collective farm, Government managers can use everything to the best advantage. A small holding may be useful for one crop, and yet the owner may try other crops at the same time for which it is not so good. In the large collective farm Government supervision may ensure that steam. tractors are supplied to break up the ground, modern machinery can be sent to plough, reap and bind, which the small holder would never be able to obtain. There is little doubt that the production over the area, as a whole, will be increased: If the Government is efficient, the wages will enable the labourer to earn as much as he did from his individual small holding. But, from the human point of view, the peasants have lost that sense of independence they felt when they had the hope of owning a small farm. They feel that they are now like factory workers, and like parts of a machine rather than a free class of agriculturists.