Land tenure includes all forms of tenancy and also ownership in any form. Land tenancy and land tenure affect the agricultural operations and cropping patterns in many ways. The farmers and cultivators plan the agricultural activities and farm (fields) management keeping in mind their rights and possession duration on the land.
In different communities of the world, the cultivators have different land tenancy rights. In the tribal societies of the shifting cultivators land belongs to the community and individuals are allowed only to grow crops along with other members of the community for a specific period. But among the sedentary farmers land belongs to individual farmers. In such societies it is believed that one who owns land he owns wealth.
The ownership and the length of time available for planning, development and management of arable land influence the decision making process of the cultivator. Depending on the nature of tenancy rights he decides the extent to which investment on land could be made. For example, if the cultivator is the sole owner of the land, he may install a tube well in his farm and may go for fencing and masonry irrigation channels.
But a tenant farmer or a sharecropper will not go for the long term investment in the field as after a short period of occupancy he will have to vacate the land and the real owner may cultivate that piece of land either himself or may lease out to other cultivator. In fact, a farmer who has the right of ownership, he has the freedom to choose a system of production and investment which improves the quality of land and gives him increasing capacity to borrow money.
The cropping patterns and farm management are also dependent on the duration of time for which the land is to remain under cultivation. For example, among the shifting cultivators (Jhumias of northeast India), the allotment of land to the cultivator is normally done for one or two years, depending on the fertility of the land.
The hilly terrain, the limited rights of the occupant and poor economic condition of the tillers hinder the development and efficient management of land. Since the land belongs to the community and not to the individuals, this type of land tenancy prevents the energetic, efficient and skilled individuals of the community to invest in the farm.
Under such a system individuals are also unlikely to put much efforts or invest more money on the improvement of cultivated land as the field is allotted by the community for a short period. Under this type of land tenancy there is no incentive to individuals to improve the agricultural efficiency and productivity of the land.