Bhubaneswar: After failing to extend benefits to several landless farmers and sharecroppers in the State, Odisha government has now come up with draft legislation for providing them land on lease. The draft of Odisha Agriculture Land Leasing Act, now under consideration and discussion, is a framework that will enable the State government to 'facilitate poor (Landless) farmers for leasing agriculture land and to provide recognition to farmers for cultivating agricultural lands on lease.'
This will also help the sharecroppers to access loans through several credit institutions, avail crop insurance, subsidies and other facilities including minimum support price for their produce, the draft read.
Agriculture Minister Arun Sahoo informed that the draft legislation is in discussion stage and suggestions from stakeholders have been invited. After the lockdown is withdrawn, steps will be taken to table the Bill in the Assembly following due consultations, he added.
“The Agriculture department has sought suggestions and appropriate steps will be taken after the lockdown ends,” said Sahoo.
The legislation is essential as several sharecroppers in the State are being deprived of several benefits of the State government including the KALIA scheme, subsidies and other benefits.
“We do not get any benefits. All the benefit goes to the landowner,” said Ekadasia Sahu, a sharecropper from Bargarh district.
As per the draft legislation, a sharecropper or registered farmer, self-help group (SHG), joint liability group, farmers’ organization and company can enter into a written lease agreement that will be attested by local Revenue Inspector (RI), Sarpanch or bank officer or a notary.
The lease agreement shall contain several details, terms and conditions including the names of the landowner and lessee, survey number, boundaries, location and area of leased out land, duration of the lease expressed in months or years and including the starting and ending dates of the lease and should be compatible with the crop cycle/agricultural year.
Apart from written agreement, there will a provision for oral lease. Both sharecropper and landowner have to apply before the Revenue Officer and the matter will have to be discussed in a Gram Sabha, as per the draft legislation.
Sources said the legislation will also protect the interest of the actual landowners and a lease agreement, whether written or oral, shall not be entered into Record of Rights. The Lessee (cultivator) and the landowner (lessor) shall make all efforts to amicably settle any dispute between them arising out of the lease agreement under the Act, using third party mediation or Gram Panchayat or Gram Sabha.
Moreover, if the dispute is not settled through the aforesaid mechanisms, they may file a petition before the competent authority, the draft legislation stipulates.