Indian agriculture faces a crisis of sustainability and economic viability despite its positive growth rate during the current pandemic. Most farms are small and fragmented: 86 per cent of farmers cultivate two hectares or less. Most have little access to formal credit, irrigation, new technology and remunerative prices. They face the vagaries of climate change. And a large percentage of them are women, as more men migrate to cities.
Growing evidence suggests that group farming can provide an answer. Small farmers can pool their land, labour and capital, as well as share costs and benefits, to cultivate crops jointly. Indeed, group and joint farming can prove to be transformative for small farmers. By voluntarily pooling land and other resources, they can enjoy economies of scale, increase their investible funds, reduce labour and input costs, invest in innovative technologies and ecological practices, and enhance their bargaining power in the markets. Women farmers may overcome restrictive social norms, and gain managerial skills and independent identities.