Barun Mitra has a Mint oped today on why not allowing the free sale of agricultural land is a bad idea. Excerpts:
Which leads us to the question: Why is it legitimate to acquire land for industrial use, but prohibit farmers from consolidating and expanding their landholding to improve agriculture? Why shouldn’t a farmer be able to legitimately acquire a thousand acres?
Indian industry can raise capital from the global market on the basis of a prospectus, which promises performance in the future. But Indian farmers can’t raise adequate capital on the basis of the land asset which they already possess.
However, it is critical that the value of the land of farmers, often their only asset, is maximized, and it is made simple to capitalize. The problem facing the poor is not their poverty, but inability to capitalize their assets. Typically, agricultural land hardly fetches Rs2-3 lakh per acre. Agriculture income, even if the land is cropped twice a year, can hardly be more than Rs30,000 per acre, at current productivity levels.
The industry could also offer shares or bonds in lieu of land. Or even provide alternative land if the farmer decides to continue with his vocation. In an open land market, with protected property rights and security of contract, there would be a wide range of choices to meet almost every requirement.
Very much worth reading. So do read.