As most rural political leaders are landowners, no mainstream party in Odisha is serious about issues related to sharecroppers during elections, alleged farmers’ organisation All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha.
The organisation lamented that till now there is no official data on the number of sharecroppers in the State. Unofficial assessments claim around 60% farmers in Odisha are sharecroppers. Since they are not united as a political force, the mainstream parties continue to ignore their plight, alleged national secretary of AIKMS, Bhala Chandra Sarangi.
During elections, parties try to impress poor peasants with small sops instead of long-term solutions to end their plight, he added.
Sharecroppers who till land as tenants are yet to have any legal documentation of their labour. “Political parties promise a lot for agricultural progress during elections but never have anything for sharecroppers, who are the real cultivators,” said G. Pradhan, a sharecropper from Bengadi village in Ganjam district.
With the amendment in Orissa Land Reforms Act in 1974, sharecropping was banned in the State. But the practice continues in all parts of Odisha without any legal binding. It is a major obstacle for agricultural development in the State as sharecroppers fail to invest properly to increase fertility of land. “Without legal documentation of tenancy of land, sharecroppers do not get institutional loans and other government benefits. At the time of natural calamities, they fail to get compensation,” said Mr. Pradhan.