Allocating House and Garden Plots to Benefit the Rural Landless Jennifer Brown Rural Development Institute
Key Messages • Land access must be important component of rural devt and poverty alleviation strategies. • House plots can and do provide important non-housing benefits. • Size of plot matters. • Allocating “large” house-and-garden plots is a feasible land reform alternative.
Background • Rural landlessness is best predictor of poverty in India. • Int’l experience: house-and-garden plots often provide significant nutrition, income, and other non-housing benefits • Research Question: What role do such plots play in India?
Research • Objectives: • How are poor landless households using house plots? • What nutritional, income and other benefits are households obtaining from the house plot? • Relationship between size and benefits from plot? • Research Locations: • Karnataka • Uttar Pradesh • West Bengal
Beneficial Impacts of House Plots for Rural Poor • House plots of 1800-6500 sq ft for agricultural laborer families had resulted in: • Increase in status (89%) • Increase in income (68%) • Increase in credit access (58%) • Increase in bargaining power and wages for those who had lived on landlord’s land • Substantially increased asset portfolio
Study of Well-Developed Plots: Nutrition • Well-developed house-and-garden plots averaging 2400 sq ft produced enough for agric laborer families to consume: • More than the recommended daily amount of vegetables • More than the average rural intake of milk and fruits.
Study of Well-Developed Plots: Income • Agric laborer families were able to produce annualized income of Rs 6,600 income from surplus on 2400 sq ft house-and-garden plots. • Equivalent to wages from 150 days of agric labor.
Other Findings • Benefits accrue especially to women (and thus children). • Poor families find a way to self-construct house if they have secure legal rights to a plot. • Many govt-granted plots in recent years were 1200 sq ft or less. • Govt extension and other support for home gardens non-existent.
Summary of Findings • Most households accruing significant non-housing social, nutritional and economic benefits from adequately sized rural house plots. • Benefits increase significantly with small increases in plot area; most benefits can be achieved at approximately 3000-4500 sq ft. • Well-developed house-and-garden plots provide substantial benefits: scope for improved extension.
Tenth 5-year Plan • “Access to even small pieces of land which may not be sufficient for providing income to a family for subsistence can significantly reduce poverty and food insecurity by providing an essential component in a diversified livelihood system.” 3.2.57 • “Ownership of even a small plot of land enables a family to raise its income, improve its nutritional status, have access to credit facilities and lead a more dignified life.… Horticulture, floriculture and vegetable cultivation on small plots of land, including homestead land, have proved beneficial for the poor. Agricultural labourers, therefore, need to be provided access to land to improve their economic and social well-being” 3.2.71
Policy Recommendations 1. Allocate house-and-garden plots of approximately 3000-4500 sq ft (7-10 cents) to the rural landless households. 2. Use available govt land or purchase land. 3. Use portion of resources from existing rural housing schemes for land acquisition or purchase.
Policy Recommendations • Provide rights to house-and-garden plots in joint names of husband and wife. • Provide extension advice and assistance to house-and-garden plot recipients (and existing holders).
Related Specifics 1. Each acre of land can provide about 10 adequately sized house-and-garden plots together with paths and common areas. 2. Land can be acquired from existing government lands or by govt purchase of private lands. 3. Land should be cultivatable and not too far from existing habitation. 4. Purchasing dryland at Rs 35,000 per acre means land cost per household is Rs 3,500.
Related Specifics 5. For new layout or colony, adding adding dirt road, electrical line and common well for household water may increase cost to Rs 5000-7500 per family. 6. Compare Rs 20,000-25,000/household spent on existing housing schemes (Indira Awaas Yojana alone is Rs 1,500 crore/year). 7. Can, but need not, provide housing. 8. Providing such land for all landless households in India would require less than 0. 4% of India’s arable land.
Key Messages • Poverty alleviation strategies must include land policy. • House plots can and do provide important non-housing benefits. • Size of plot matters. • Allocating “large” house-and-garden plots is a feasible land reform alternative.