Collective farming is cultivation of fallow farm land taken on informal lease by groups of Kudumbashree women with the support of panchayats and the Kudumbashree community network. It is programme that aims to provide economic empowerment of women while helping local governments in moving towards food security.
Farming is done by Joint Liability Groups (JLGs) along the lines of the group concept promoted by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
Rationale for the Programme
Kerala has been witnessing a dichotomy of fallowing of farming land one the one hand and the State’s increasing dependence for food products on other States.
The crisis that the farming sector has been facing in Kerala invariably affected the entire population. However, women have been the worst-hit as men who lost opportunities in farming migrated or diversified their labour into new areas. Women, faced with problems of mobility, got stranded in a stagnant farming context.
There had been attempts in collective farming in Kerala during the latter half of 1980s; however, it met with limited success as the initiatives targeted paddy alone and was inevitably burdened by the adverse economics of paddy sector itself.
It was in this context that Kudumbashree launched a massive programme for organising women to take up leased land farming.
Kerala’s land reform legislation passed in 1970 makes leasing of land illegal. Kudumbashree tried to break this through leasing land informally to groups through discussions with land owners led by CDS and panchayat leaders.