TOPEKA, KANSAS, USA: This is with reference to Syed Mohammad Ali’s article “What’s wrong with our agricultural policies?” (September 6). Small family-owned farms are being squeezed out in many countries, including Pakistan, because of the high capital investment required. Also, let us not forget that economies of scale do set in large farming outfits. Small landowners cannot supplement sustained livelihood and therefore, they are bound to be marginalised. In Pakistan, right from the beginning, the feudals saw to it that they must represent themselves in the national and provincial assemblies so that they could make laws, which were most favourable to them, at the expense of small farm-holders and others.
We did witness a shift of sorts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to help the tenants and subsistence farming by encouraging industries in the rural areas to develop so that they coud attract the rural population away from agriculture. This did curtail the hold of the landlords over their peasants and, above all, made labour more expensive for the landlords to hire. I think this is one way to make big landholdings more efficient, with production switching to capital intensive investments.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2013.