Can Government-Allocated Land Contribute to Food Security?

    1. Study Information


      This section discusses the 2013 IFPRI Discussion Paper “Can Government-Allocated Land Contribute to Food Security?” by Florence Santos, Diana Fletschner, Vivien Savath, and Amber Peterman.1

      This study was conducted in West Bengal, India and evaluates the impact of India’s land allocation and registration program in West Bengal. The Nijo Griha, Nijo Bhumi—“My Home, My Land”—program (NGNB) is a program that targets poor populations and promotes the inclusion of women’s names on land titles. The study collected information between 2010 and 2012 using both qualitative and quantitative methods. It examines the program’s selection of beneficiaries and a set of outcomes that are expected to lay the foundation for future food security, as well as short-term food security indicators.

      The quantitative survey sample consists of 1,035 households: 671 NGNB beneficiaries and 364 non-beneficiaries that serve as the control group. The households were located in three districts: Coochbehar, Bankura, and Jalpaiguri. The control group was made up of households who were on the list of NGNB eligible households but did not benefit from the program. The control group did not have rights to their own land, but they did have insecure access to some land. Heads of households (both male and female) were interviewed with a sub-set of questions given to the female spouse of male-headed households, where applicable.

    2. Questions posed
      • Do NGNB households have better outcomes than non-NGNB households in four areas that will contribute to future food security: perceptions of tenure security, use of credit for agricultural production, investments in agricultural production, and women's participation in decision making?
    3. Description of intervention

      The NGNB program is a government program that provides micro-land plots to landless agricultural laborers. The NGNB program gives priority to female-headed households and widows and explicitly stipulates that land titles issued to households with both male and female adults should be jointly titled to the primary male and female.

    4. Context of findings

      An NGO, Landesa, has provided technical support since 2009 to West Bengal’s Land & Land Reforms Department in piloting changes to the NGNB program, identifying best practices, and scaling it up.

      The program works through the state government and local communities to purchase and allocate small plots of land. The program also provides assistance with housing and basic inputs and capacity building in homestead food production and promotes local development through investment in infrastructure.

    5. Key findings

      The findings indicate that respondents perceive NGNB plots as more secure and that women report significantly higher levels of tenure security for NGNB plots than for non-NGNB land.

      More specifically, the women interviewed are (1) 8 percent less likely to report being concerned about having to vacate NGNB plots; (2) 18 percent more likely to report that they expect their households to have retained access and control over household plots five years from now, with this number dropping slightly, to 17 percent, when women referred to their own personal access and control; and (3) 7 percent more likely to report that they could convince other decision-makers in the family not to sell the land plot against their will.

      NGNB beneficiary households are more likely to access credit for agriculture and to invest in agricultural improvements, and women in NGNB beneficiary households are more likely to participate in food and agricultural decisions compared to their non-NGNB peers. Women in NGNB households are (1) 12 percent more likely to be involved in decisions to take loans from Self-Help Groups or microfinance institution; (2) 12 percent more likely to be involved in decisions on whether to purchase productive assets; (3) 9 percent more likely to be involved in decisions related to food purchase and consumption; and (4) more likely to be involved in decisions about the family land.

      Including women’s names on land titles significantly contributes to women’s perceptions of increased tenure security and to women’s involvement in food and agriculture decision making. Tenure security outcomes improve up to 10 percent among beneficiaries when women’s names are included on the land documents.

    6. Unanswered questions
      • Are there procedural guidelines for ensuring women and men are jointly titled? If so, what are they?
      • What interventions were in place to ensure that both women and men knew the value of their documented rights?
      • With any of the findings, is there a difference between women in male-headed households and female-headed households?
      • Were there any special considerations about the location of the land for female-headed households?
      • Are there differences in terms of impact between Hindu, Muslim, and Christian women?
      • Were there differences in the number of land documented in women’s names by location?
      • Were there incentives for officials to follow the rules re: joint titling?
    1. Santos, F., Fletschner, D., Savath, V., & Peterman, A. (2013). “Can Government-Allocated Land Contribute to Food Security?” IFPRI Discussion Paper, December 2013.