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‘Consultation on Tenancy in Odisha’ to create opportunity for poor landless farmers

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 28:

To collate various perspectives around the issue of tenancy in Odisha and design an intensive study to examine and analyse the prevailing situation, Landesa, a global non-profit organisation, organised a ‘Consultation on Tenancy in Odisha’ in the state capital today.

LandesaEminent economists, experts from government and civil society organisations including Dr Padmaja Mishra; Dr T Haque, Director, Centre for Development Studies, New Delhi; Dr Aurobindo Behera, Dr B Bhuyan, Suneel Kumar and Sanjoy Patnaik, India Country Director, Landesa, participated in the consultation to build a common perspective around the issue of tenancy in the state and engage further in designing the plan ahead.

Post -independence land reforms aimed to eliminate all forms of exploitation and social injustice within the agrarian system, to provide security for the tiller of the soil and to remove such impediments to increase in agricultural production. However, such reforms that actually targeted at conferring the right of ownership of land on the tenants and to encourage hardworking tenants to become owner cultivators, ended up with a tenancy reform that mandates for ‘prohibited or highly restrictive tenancy’. Despite such prohibitions on tenancy, it has not put an end to absentee ownership of land nor has it led to the disappearance of tenancy.

In the context of Odisha, tenancy is highly restricted. Such restrictive leasing/ tenancy has led to informal or oral or hidden or clandestine tenancy that is tenancy without legal sanctions and permissions, or without any written agreement.  Such hidden tenancy which accounts for anything between 35-40 percent of the total cultivated area, has grossly affected the sharecroppers who represent the more vulnerable section of peasantry.

The major consequences of the prevailing unrecorded or clandestine tenancy practice make the tenants unsure of their rights for which they do not invest towards increasing long term productivity of land. Besides, lack of documented rights to use the land deprives farmers’ accessibility to credit for investment on land. As a result, the unused land lie fallow and landless agricultural labourers migrate in search of alternative livelihood. Apart from this, unequal distribution of land resources leads to lack of opportunities and perpetuation of poverty.

Considering the above, it is imperative to develop a deeper understanding of the prevailing situation with regard to tenancy in the state, examine the existing legal instruments to protect tenancy and share the best practices of different states for building a larger perspective on the issue.

Since 1967, Landesa has helped more than 100 million poor families in 35 countries gain legal control over their land.

Landesa partners with governments, world leaders, NGOs, foundations, donor agencies such as the World Bank, USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and others to design and implement land laws, policies and programs that provide opportunity, further economic growth and promote social justice through land rights.