Chris Blattman has a post Questions more important than you might think: Are small farms in India inefficient? wondering about the efficiency of small farms in India. I remember Katapati Muahari Rao tellings me that future of farming in India is in large farms of the order of 2000-3000 acres, leasing land from small farmers and bringing in technology. It was a brief conversation and the role of the small farmers was not clear to me. There is a model from Latin America 'Grobocopatel' mentioned in an earlier post Agriculture Process Outsourcing by an Argentine Patel ; again the role of small farmers is not explicit in this description. In a brief newspaper report World’s ‘biggest farmer’ says future is in outsourcing Gustavo Grobocopatel says:
“What they (farmers) could possibly do—as my experience in Latin America tells me—is that villages can pool together the land and run it like cooperatives.”
This, according to Grobocopatel, “is agribusiness in the new era of knowledge society” and would further help the farmers do well in times when input costs are swelling, thereby forcing many to quit farming as returns don’t match to the costs.
“You work according to your strengths: you good at driving trucks, be in transportation; you good in getting people on to the fields, be in the harvesting,” he says.
In an interview , Gustavo Grobocopatel talks of vertical as well as horizantal integration. Their organization Grupo Los Grobo uses GM seeds and many of their methods seem to avoid the degradation of land. Most of the articles about Grupo Los Grobo and Gustavo Grobocopatel I could find are in Spanish and I am not able to find any more details. But their methods seem worth looking into.
P.S. On the other hand Vamsi Vakulabharanam and others describe a situation in Andhra Pradesh Understanding the Andhra Crop Holiday movement (the article will be available free online for a month) where any kind of solution seems fraught with political problems.