Agricultural Economics II (Land Tenure and Land Reforms) - Agriculture Form 3 Notes

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  • Land is an important factor of production.
  • Without land it is impossible to practice the agricultural business.
  • However the efficiency of utilization of land is influenced to a large extent by the condition of holding the land.

Land Tenure

  • Land tenure is defined as the possession of the legal rights to the use of land.
  • Various kinds of rights to the use of land give rise to different tenure systems.

Land Tenure Systems

  • All land tenure systems fall into two major classes, namely:

Collective Tenure Systems

This includes:

Communal Tenure Systems

  • This involves the possession of rights over land by the whole community.
  • It works quite well under conditions of unlimited, land resources.

Advantages of Communal Tenure

  • Landless problem does not exist.
  • Land is not fragmented.
  • Allows for free movement of animals in search of better pastures and water.
  • Promotes community spirit among the members.

Disadvantages of Communal Tenure

  • No incentive among the users to conserve the land resources.
  • Everybody strives to maximize returns from the land without the drive to invest, for example, in terms of soil conservation and maintenance of soil fertility.
  • There is a tendency of overstocking and continuous cropping; which leads to soil erosion and loss of land productivity.
  • As a result of communal grazing of livestock, it is impossible to improve livestock through;
    • controlled breeding,
    • proper feeding,
    • disease and parasite control.
  • Since there is no title deed, (certificate of ownership) it is virtually impossible to secure loans to develop the land.

Co-operative Tenure System

  • This category includes various collective arrangements under the government or other authorities.
  • Farmers voluntarily group together and buy land which they subsequently operate on co-operative basis.
  • Examples are co-operative ranches.

Advantages of Co-operative Tenure

  • No land disputes.
  • Labour is well utilized.
  • Profit is distributed according to the number of shares.
  • Resource use is enhanced for high production.

Disadvantages of co-operative tenure.

  • Incase of poor management everybody will loose.
  • No individual title deed hence cannot secure loans.

State Ownership

  • Land is owned by the whole state and is refered to as government land.

Examples in Kenya;

  • Areas not allocated to individuals
  • Land under local county councils/cities and towns
  • Land under forest, game reserve and parks, land for infra-structure and public utility

Advantages of state ownership

  • Generation of income for the state
  • All the citizens benefit from whatever comes out of the land.


  • Non-competitive in terms of production
  • No individual motivation when working on the land.

Individual Tenure system

The various forms of individual land tenure are;

  • Owner operator,
  • Plantation and Concession,
  • Land-lordism/Tenancy

Owner operator

  • This category includes all persons who operate on land to which they have absolute individual rights.
  • Examples are the majority of individual land owners in areas where demarcation and registration of land has taken place and title deeds issued.



  • The owner is free to make permanent production plans.
  • The owner can pledge the land title deed to secure loans(credit) from lending agencies for further development
  • An individual is motivated to work harder than when under communal arrangement
  • Managerial failures usually affect small units of production and are therefore negligible.
  • It is easy for the owner to get agricultural advice.


  • Cost such as machinery for processing may be too high for the individual owner
  • Innovation may be inadequate due to low levels of education.
  • Lack of capital to invest.

Plantation and concession

  • In this form of land tenure, the individual is usually a company or a corporation.
  • Most of them engage in the production of only one commodity
  • They are rigid in their production plans and in most cases labour is hired on wage basis.
  • Example are coffee, tea, sugarcane, sisal estates in Kenya.


  • High production from the land hence high economic gains
  • Allows foreigners to use and develop land
  • No land disputes
  • Create employment for the local people
  • Generate government revenue through taxation.


  • Individuals own large pieces of land while others are landless
  • Large areas of land may be left underdeveloped.
  • Foreigners may repatriate profit to their countries.

Landlordism and tenancy

  • The arrangement here involves the ownership of land by one individual or group of individuals (landlord) who lease it to another individual (tenant).
  • A legal lease specifies the length of time during which the tenure is operative; and that serves as a security of tenure to the tenant.
  • The efficiency of production in this arrangement is greatly affected by the length of lease, its legal backing and rent payable.


  • A person without land can get a chance to use land.
  • A landlord who cannot operate the land, for any reason, can still earn income by leasing it to a needy tenant.
  • It is a flexible arrangement; that is, it allows room for change of production plans should need arise.
  • Security of tenure gives the tenant incentive to invest depending on the length of tenure.


  • Poor land use and low production if the tenant does not have enough funds to improve on land.
  • Tenants cannot produce long term crops,
  • Landlords can exploit the tenants by overcharging.
  • Lack of incentives to improve land by the tenants since it does not belong to them.

Land Reforms


  • Land reform is any organized action designed to improve the structure of land tenure and land use.

Forms of Land Reforms

Land Consolidation

  • This means bringing or putting together, into one piece; fragmented parcels or pieces of land scattered over a large area.

The objective of land consolidation are :

  • To save on time spent while moving from one piece of land to another.
  • To facilitate effective and efficient farm planning.
  • To create an incentive among land operators to invest on and develop land.
  • To facilitate mechanization and improve production through efficiency.
  • To improve level of production through effective supervision of the labour force and sound farming methods,

Land Fragmentation and Sub-division

  • This is the subdividing of a (large) piece of land into smaller portions.
  • Sometimes it becomes necessary to sub-divide land for the following reasons:
    • To sell part of the land.
    • The parent may wish to subdivide and distribute his land among the sons, daughters and other dependants.
    • The government may decide to subdivide large farms in order to settle landless citizens.

Land Adjudication and Registration

  • Land adjudication involves;
    • Establishing the legitimate ownership,
    • Measurements (to make permanent boundaries)
    • Recording of land details.
  • Once land has been adjudicated, and any disputes concerning the same land are settled,
  • It is then registered in the "Register of Land".
  • And the owner is issued with a land title deed or certificate of legal ownership.

Importance of land title deed

  • The legal owner of the land has security of tenure and hence an incentive to invest and improve productivity.
  • A farmer can mortgage the land by offering land title certificate as a security to loaning agencies to secure capital to finance development projects.
  • If a farmer who cannot operate the farm, he can still earn income from it by leasing it.
  • Disputes concerning land boundaries and/or land ownership no longer arise.  

Land Settlement and Resettlement


  • Land settlement means the occupation of land which was previously uninhabited.
  • Land resettlement, on the other hand, is the transfer of people from an already densely populated area to a sparsely populated one.


  • To settle the landless citizens.
  • To relieve population pressure in densely populated areas.
  • To increase or promote agricultural productivity by farming on land that was previously unused or lying idle.
  • To create self-employment thus improving the living standards.
  • Land reclamation, especially by creating tsetse fly-barriers. 

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