A farming System is defined as a complex interrelated matrix of soil, plants, animals, implements, power, labor capital, and other inputs controlled in part by farming families and influenced to varying degrees by political, economic, institutional, and social forces that operate at many levels. General requirements for farming system classifications
For ISQAPER, we needed a dynamic agricultural production system classification that can be mapped and refined through time.
In this article, Pritish Kumar Halder tells about farming systems.
The farming system should be able to:
summarize existing global agricultural production classifications develop a common classification framework that:
- a) can be mapped using existing global or at least EU/China data sets,
- b) meet various operational requirements e.g. stratification for data sets, livestock and crop production modeling,
- c) be of operational level used at the EU and China level, develop a detailed plan of work for completing a global system classification;
- a) the definition of the category of mixed farming is challenging,}
- b) to define a generally applicable production system classification,
- c) a particular cropping system may be associated with several different livestock systems and a particular livestock system may be associated with several different cropping systems,
- d) the classification scheme should be interpretable and repeatable, given updates of information, additional data layers, and adjustments to classification criteria,
- e) the classification should be dynamic to allow investigation of the likely developments of FS in the future, and how they might evolve in response to global drivers such as population pressure, changes in demand for livestock and crop product, and climate change.
Concept of Farming system
- In the farming system, the farm is viewed holistically.
- Farming enterprises include crops, dairying, poultry, fishery, sericulture,
- piggery, apiary, tree crops, etc.
1. Traditional System:
This is a system that is generally prevalent in a backward, segment of agriculture. The main feature of this farming system can be traced to the characteristics of an overall backward economy. The industrial sector is non-existent and therefore the population mainly depends upon agriculture.
Population pressure on agriculture has resulted in a perpetual sub-division of holdings, and therefore, the size of the farm is very small. In some cases, the size of the farm is so small that it is difficult for the farmer to use the family labor and other resources optimally on the farm.
As agriculture is backward, there is no marketable surplus on such small farms. This system is, therefore, also called subsistence farming. The large size of the family makes agricultural labor intensive. The capital used on the land is of crude form.
In terms of the elements that distinguish traditional systems from other farming, we can say that the farm, that is cultivated is generally owned by the farmer himself. He is the controller of the operations on the farm. That is, he decides what should be produced, and what quantity of various inputs for each of the various crops.
He is also the operator of the farms i.e. he cultivation the land with his labor along with that of his family. In other words, in such a farming system the farmer combines in himself, the rules of an owner, a controller, and an operator of the farm, This system is also known as peasant farming.
One could also visualize a variant of this system about the ownership of land. The farmer cultivating the small piece of land may be a tenant rather than the owner. However, in actual practice tenancy is on a very limited scale in such a system. Two factors work against tenancy. One is that the size of the farm is rather small and as such, there is generally no surplus land available with the owner to lease it out.
Secondly, even when the small farmer wishes to lease out his land, he may ultimately decide against doing so simply because he will not find suitable job opportunities outside agriculture as the industrial sector is practical and non-existent.
2. Commercial Farming:
Commercial farming represents, peasant farming. The other extreme of the farming system. Here, as against the private ownership of a farm by a single farmer, the owner is generally in the hand of a large number of personnel who form a joint stock company to win the form. (However, commercial farming is compatible even a single owner if he can own a large farm-large enough, as to necessary the use of hired labor), As far as the control of overproduction i.e. decision-making power about the production is concerned it is generally in the hands of employed managers. The hired laborers operate the farms.
They constitute a class different from that of the managers who supervise the work. In India, various tea and coffee plantations are fine examples of commercial farming. Commercial farming is quite popular in the U.S.A. Australia and U.K. Commercial farming is also known as estate farming or corporate farming in case a joint stock company owns the farm. Another name for commercial farming is capitalistic farming simply because, in this, case production is carried on with the help of machinery which is generally hired.
And this system is called a commercial farm because, unlike subsistence farming, the production is meant for the market. Almost the whole of the product (except that which is necessary for seeds etc.) is marketed. As the farm purchases, most of the inputs from the market and sells most of its products in the market the commercial motive of such a farm becomes strong. The crop pattern becomes market-oriented and is influenced fully by the changes in the market forces.
One is not wrong when one points out that whereas the commercial motive (to get maximum profit) is the guiding force for a commercial farm, the technical motive (to get the maximum physical output) is the guiding force for a subsistence farm.
A commercial farm is free from the main disadvantages from which a subsistence farm suffers. A commercial farm, for example, has sufficient financial resources with it. As such he can purchase new and improved inputs from the market. It can resource for the purpose but also because the large size of the farm can use reduce their cost per unit of output. Fencing, drainage, and leveling of land can be taken up. Rotation of crops can be introduced Wells can be dug up. Farm building and roads can be built on the farm
Further, the commercial farms provide a much marketable surplus of food grain to the industrial sector, too, which is produced on the commercial farms. Commercial farms thus encourage the development of the industrial sector. Various commercial economies in marketing etc. can also be reaped by the commercial farm due to its large size. As the commercial motive on such farms is quite strong the crop pattern responds to price changes and the allocation of resources becomes optimum.
Commercial farming is not free from certain drawbacks. The most important flaw with this farm organization is the displacement of labor that takes place due to excessive use of machinery on the commercial farm. The size of the farm is quite large to permit the use of sophisticated machinery and at the same time, ‘free’ family labor is not available. Labor has to be hired and, to be paid for. The use of commercial displaces hired labor and becomes an attractive alternative.
A commercial farm is also likely to suffer from the malady of poor supervision. The large farms will have to employ a large number of supervisors to look after the workers of agricultural laborers whose area of operation is quite large. As they have an incentive of ownership, they may not be fully devoted to their job.
This farming system is somewhat similar to commercial farming or capitalistic farming. The only difference is about the ownership of the farming. Whereas in the case of a commercial farm the ownership of the farm lies with a joint company (or in some cases with a landlord), in the case of state farming, the state itself is the owner of the farm. As far as the control of overpopulation or operating of the farm is concerned, in both cases, the hired managers have the decision-making power about production, and the hired workers work on the farm.
Has all the advantages of capitalistic farming. There are no financial problems for a state farm. Necessary improvements in the land can be made; improved agricultural practices can be adopted, productive sets for efficient production can be procured; well can be dugs up, tube wells can be installed and necessary buildings and roads on the farm can be built commercial economies of various types can be reaped. For more information please visit Pritish Kumar Halder ‘s page.
Market surplus of food grain and raw materials required by the industrial sector are produced on such farms. The state farms, in fact, in some measures can be important over a commercial farm owned by an individual or a joint stock company.
It can substitute the motive with some social motive. That can result in lesser use of the machinery on the farms, this displacing labor to a smaller extent when compared with a commercial farm. The exploitation of the hired labor can also be curbed. Further, as the earnings of state farms go to fill the coffee of the Government, a part of the earned money can be used for the welfare of the workers working on the farm. The distribution of income-this can be corrected to some extent indirectly.
Of course, as in the case of commercial farms managers and supervisors on a state farm may not be fully devoted to their jobs due to a lack of incentive of ownership. It may be noted that state farming is not suitable for an open and democratic society. It works against the principles of freedom of enterprise.
3. Collective Farming:
This is another farming system that was introduced in U.S.S.R. Sometime after the 1917 revolution. This system replaces the feudal system of farming enforced by a communist regime. The revolutionary regime decided that in place of the feudal lords owning the land, henceforth the village community, as a whole would own the land.
The community itself would take decisions about production and would operate upon the land it possessed. This decision led to the emergence of what are now collective farms. The land and other production assets are held jointly by the village’s society.
There is no individual ownership. The village community as a whole constitutes the general body of the collective farm. Its members themselves elect an executive board that manages the farm. Some nominees of the Government also represents on the executive board.
The board plans the crop production arranges for various inputs to be used on the farm and also looks after the disposal of the crops produced. It also keeps in touch with the government for seeking advice and guidance from it about production on the farm and also for the produce. The board also arranges to provide various social services like education, health care, and entertainment for its member.
Members of the village community work as laborers on the collective farm. These workers are divided into work Brigades and their work is recorded by a foreman who is elected as such by the workers themselves. As the various agricultural operations require different skills and energy, the work put in by them is standardized.
Each worker is paid according to the standardized work put in by him. However, we must note that whatever the workers get is not their wages. They do not act as wage earners. They share according to the works put in the surplus which they create on the farm after paying for the intermediate inputs, depreciation and taxes, and other demands made by the government.
As there is no individual ownership of land the incentive generated by ownership is missing. To motivate workers to put in their best other types of incentives in the forms of money and kind are offered to the worker.
No doubt, collective farms have all the advantages of commercial farms. However, they are not popular in open societies. They represent a political system and are confined to the regimented economics of Eastern Europe and China.
4. Cooperative Farming:
We know that the traditional system of farming no doubt has certain advantages like the higher intensity of cropping, higher employment level, and higher productivity per acre, it suffers from certain disadvantages due to the small size of the holding some improved crop practices e.g. rotation of crops and difficulties in carrying out some developmental operation like fencing, digging of a well, weak bargaining power in the market, etc. To overcome these difficulties associated with small farms and at the same time, to reap the incentives of ownership, a new system of farming has been suggested. It is known as cooperative farming.