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Does Ownership Affect One's Receptivity towards Information?

A man's sense of ownership over a thing should be, in all respects, differentiated from Sovereignty, that is, exercising exclusive rights. One with exclusive right to take all decisions over something may cause a clash with interests of people related to that piece in every possible way. Ownership therefore must not clash with the usufructuary rights of others. Hence our Constitution hands over only Ownership rights, and not sovereign rule over property.

The above statements may seem unrelated to agriculture. However, clarity on ownership issues over agricultural land, is important in the Indian context of agriculture, where, often, the people responsible for tilling the land and tending the crops are marginal and landless farmers.A sense of ownership towards your land is important in determining how much effort you would put towards making improvements in your piece of land. This is determined majorly by your right towards gathering the benefits that thus accrue from your efforts.No one would sow a seed if the fruits are to be reaped by someone else, without him being even a partial beneficiary to it.

So, in order that our farmers may successfully put to use the knowledge-base that we prepare agropedia into, we need to introduce the proper "incentive structure" so as to induce the farmers into updating themselves. Unlike the Western countries ,where there are large farmers and most cultivators are Progressive farmers, our country is besotted with marginal farmers, and tenant-farmer, so that our drive to improve rural productivity through disseminating information to a select set of farmers may not be as effective, unless we ensure that the actual cultivators receive the information and are also convinced that they will indeed benefit from implementing the advanced farm practices that are being advocated through the KVKs.

This is an essential part of ensuring the effectiveness of agropedia. Though there is no scope for providing ownership rights, social scientists could review the fairly large literature on the relation between ownership and farm productivity study and correlate ownership to improvements in farm productivity (in the long term) as a result of information interventions by the KVK scientists through the E2F mode. This would go a long way in determining whether a central objective of agropedia, the provision of a knowledge base that is accessible to all, is being met or not.

agropedia is an effort through which, eventually, each individual farmer will be able to access customized information about his crop and other livelihood issues, as and when he or she wants to.  To begin with, we are initiating this effort by targeting only those farmers who have mobile phones and have registered their number with their local KVK extension scientists. We hope that eventually, through observation of the improvements in the lands of these farmers, sustainable practices will percolate down to the poorest of the poor subsistene farmer who is in dire need of handholding and capacity building.  BUT…………… this a practical approach to take? Will things eventually progress as per our expectations? We need to introspect..what alternative means of delivery should be adoptend so that agropedia is truly inclusive in nature?  How can we bridge the gap within the rural poor rather than widening it through our well meaning efforts? I intend to initiate this debate only.

We inherited a semi-feudal land system, where both COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP and INDIVIDUAL OWNERSHIP both were missing…..where do things stand now, and where from does the incentive to INVEST IN THE LAND for productive use come from??

What we have now in terms of ownership structure is a medley of sorts………so, in order to cater to all farmers, agropedia needs to evolve as a “Customized Information Provider”- eventually, if not immediately. Most large farmers are the LEGITIMATE OWNERS but not the TILLERS of the land- that is, though they may have an Incentive to gather scientific information to improve productivity for the sake of curiosity, they are not the ones who apply it on the LAND. This fact should be kept in mind while working out our PROJECT’S BLUE PRINT.

More discussions in this line will follow in my next blog. Until then, I hope to receive comments that could spice up the food for thought in this blog.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.