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Updated on May 19, 2012


What is land reform?

Land reform is a popular slogan in developing countries of the world. By land reform is technically meant that land tenure reform. Land tenure reform is of two types; (1) land redistribution which leads to change in size of ownership and (2) tenancy reforms which leads to improvements in tenancy contracts. Land reform thus is more than redistribution of land either by breaking up large estates or by consolidation of holdings. It includes a number of measures to improve the relationship of the man who works on land such improved conditions of tenancy, provision of agricultural credit at reasonable rates, reduction in rent to the landlord, facilities for marketing agricultural products with emphasis on cooperatives. Briefly, land reform can be described as an integrated programme of measures designed to eliminate obstacles to economic and social development arising out of defects in the agrarian structure.

Objectives of land reform.

The land reform is carried to achieve three main objectives (i) Social, (ii) Political and (iii) Economics.

(1) Social Objectives.

From social point of view, it is essential that the tiller of the soil should have a fair treatment at the hands of the owners of land. The land reform should help in reducing disparity in wealth. It should eliminate exploitation, provide security to tenants. It should ensure the provision of equality of status and opportunity to different sections of the rural population. The different sections of the rural society should get a fair and reasonable reward for its labour and investment.

(2) Political objectives.

Land reform is needed for achieving political stability in the country. If a country is continuously ruled by feudal lards (as in Pakistan), it increases political unrest and increases the chances of revolution. To avoid the revolution, and conflict among the landlords and the tenants, the earlier the land reform is carried out, the better it is in the interest of the country.

(3) Economic objectives.

(i) Core of agricultural development. Land reform is the very core of agricultural development. It is through land reform that agriculture can be lifted out of stagnation.

(ii) Feudalism put to an end. With the the help of land reforms the feudalism can be put to an end which is the main obstacle to economic development.

(iii) Helps in removing insecurity to tenants. The tenants are always at the mercy of landlords. The land reforms provide security to the tenants.

(iv) Permanent improvements. The tenancy reforms encourage the tenants to make permanent improvements such as leveling of land. drainage tube wells etc in their occupied land holding. This helps in the increase in production.

(v) Reduction in disparity. The abolition of landlordism not reduces disparities in wealth but also affords a measures of opportunity to the landless tenants to make contribution to economic progress.

(vi) Emergence of peasant proprietor system. With the implementation of land reforms the peasant proprietorship system emerges which leads to efficient cultivation through mechanization.

(vii) Increase in government revenue. The land reforms encourage the tenants small holders of land to make permanents improvements in land. With the increase in agricultural produce the state is in a position to raise revenue from the land.

Summing up land reform is needed to achieve economic growth, fair income distribution and achieving political ad economic stability.

What is land tenure?

Land tenure refers to the rights and patterns of control over land. Land tenure mean a system which (i) describes the ownership of land (ii) the conditions of occupancy on land and (iii) the manner and responsibility of payment of land revenue to the state.

The ownership of land, management and decisions regarding its use are of great importance and play a vital role in the economic and political stability of the country. Land rights determine social and political status as well as economic power of a large proportion of the population in developing countries.

Land tenure systems in Pakistan

There are three types of land tenures prevalent in Pakistan. (a) Royotwari, (b) Mahalwari and (c) Zamindari

I-Royotwari Tenure:

Royotwari system was introduced by the British Rulers in Bombay. Madras and Sindh, Under this system, every registered holder of the land is recognized as its proprietor. He is made responsible to pay revenue direct to the government. He is given liberty to sublet his holding of land or transfer it by gift or mortgage. So long as he pays the fixed revenue to the government, he cannot be ejected from the land.


This system is now prevalent in the province of Sindh. The British Rulers introduced this system to give incentive to the cultivators who were much less in number compared to the availability of land at that time. The system had the merits that

(i) the cultivator was in direct relation with the government. There were no intermediaries.

(ii) The cultivator having the position of peasant proprietor made all possible improvements in land.

(iii) He worked long and late.

(iv) The system created a class which was loyal to the government and

(v) helped in maintaining social and politically.


The Royotwari tenure was introduced by the British Rulers to create a loyal class which helped them in continuation of their rule in India.

(i) On account of sub-letting of the land by the occupiers, the number of landless labour is on the increase.

(ii) The size of land has become smaller. The improved techniques of cultivation cannot be used.

II-Mahlwari System:

Mahal means village. This system was adopted by British Rulers in Agra, Oudh (India) and in the provinces of Punjab and NWFP now in Pakistan. In this system the individuals are the owners of small units of land. They are called peasant proprietors. The peasant proprietors mostly cultivate the land themselves with the help of their families. Under this system the land owners are jointly and individually libel for the payment of land revenue to the government. Generally the payment is made through the village numberdar who is given 5% of the total revenue collected by the state.


(i) The peasant proprietor system is helpful to efficient cultivation.

(ii) It has helped in creating a socially just, self reliant and a stable peasantry

(iii) The magic of ownership has helped in raising production.


(i) The excessive pressure of population on land has led to the fragmentation of holdings.

(ii) The peasant proprietors living in citues have now given land on rent to tenants who pay rent either in cash or kind.

(iii) As the tenants enjoy no security, so they have no incentive for investing capital.

(iv) As the mechanized cultivation is not adopted on small units of holdings, the required agricultural progress is not being achieved.

II-Zamindari System:

The British Rule created a loyal class by giving them vast areas of land on permanent basis. In the beginning these persons were made responsible for the payment of land revenue. Later on these collectors of land revenue were conferred proprietary rights.


(i) The zamindari system has not proved beneficial for the society. (ii) The feudal lords exploited the rural masses for over a long period of time. (iii) The ejectments of tenants both. (i) occupancy tenants and (ii) tenants at will were very common (iii) the tenants at will were the worst hit. Their poor belongings, utensils, cattle etc were set on fire or auctioned to realize arrears of rent. (iv) The zamindari system destroyed the very basis of agricultural prosperity. (v) The system has given rise to feudalism at the top and slavery at the bottom. (vi) The landlords have become the absentee parasites. The frequent enhancement of rents and constant fear ejectment stands in the way of agricultural progress.

In orders to eliminate inequalities in land holdings and al elements of exploitation, the Government of Pakistan introduced agrarian reforms from time to time. First Land Reforms were introduced in 1985, then in 1972, 1977. These reforms to some extent have decreased the land holdings of zamindars. The illegal ejecments of the tenants at will have been protected by law. The occupancy tenant, though small in number got the ownership of land.


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    • profile image

      erick omondi 

      5 months ago

      its nice to know of this statement

    • profile image


      3 years ago


    • profile image

      zia mahmood 

      3 years ago

      Nice work

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      3 years ago

      thank you for this!!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      very helpful and informative for my thesis...thanks

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      informative and useful !!

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      Owoidoho Patrick 

      6 years ago

      This is well researched, very insightful and educating but a more comparative analysis maybe with any other african nation would have helped in understanding what was and/or is obtainable else where. But in all i give my highest vote... Cheers.

    • profile image


      6 years ago



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