Documented as part of the World Bank study Land Policy Reform for Agricultural Transformation in India by NRMC Centre for Land Governance, this series of case studies analyzes recent interventions by government and non-government organizations to secure land tenure rights for poor farmers—especially the landless, tenants and women, resulting in increased access to agricultural land, markets, finance, and services. These seven cases span formal and customary tenure regimes from six states of India, from Kerala in the South to Manipur in North East India.
- Kudumbashree initiative to lease land to women’s self-help groups in Kerala.
- Indira Kranti Pratham (IKP)-Bhoomi program under the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty in Andhra Pradesh to enhance access to land by poor households.
- Landesa and Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Program Partnership to enhance women’s land rights over homestead and agricultural land.
- Landesa and West Bengal State Rural Livelihoods Mission Partnership to provide legal training and assistance to help women register land in their names.
- Working Group of Women for Land Ownership (WGWLO) program in Gujarat to enhance the agricultural land rights of women farmers.
- Rongmei Naga Baptist Association (RNBA) and NRMC Center for Land Governance pilot to assist traditional leaders to document farmers’ land rights in the Manipur Hills; and
- Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) program in Odisha to help women’s groups access and farm leased-in land.
Strategies adopted to Increase Farmers’ Tenure Security and Access to Agricultural Entitlements
While legal reforms are usually resorted to enhance tenure security and access, the case studies illustrate effective institutional strategies and activities that can increase farmers’ tenure security and access to agricultural entitlements within existing legal frameworks. These are summarized as follows:
- Increase Land Access by subsizing land purchases by poor women farmers, formal and informal group land leasing for collective farming, supporting the poor and women to ensure absolute title over the land, with all required documents and physical possession of the land.
- Formally Record Land Rights under Existing Legislation by supporting landless families to regularize government land possession and claim available government land, add women’s names in (formal) land records.
- Issue Alternative Documentation for Existing (Unrecorded) Rights by identifying tenants and women as farmers for loan eligibility and other public services entitlements, as well as agricultural market linkages, issue customary land tenure certificates.
- Provide Legal Aid/Increase Legal Awareness by supporting women to claim inheritance, resolve land disputes including to secure possession to lands legally allotted to SC/ST, build legal awareness of women and men farmers on land rights, land laws, and administration, as well as on agricultural entitlements.
Looking across the case studies, it is clear that increasingly there are solutions emerging to address the complex nature of developing inclusive and accurate land records. Several common approaches can be scaled up to enhance land access and agricultural development for poor farmers, including women farmers.