1117 GMT October 21, 2019
As a transitive mechanism, the rental farming system has always paved the ground for agriculture revolution.
The farming system in Iran has been dominated by several challenges, including the high number of smallholders, small and scattered farms, the high average age of farmers, depopulation of villages due to the permanent migration of the rural dweller and the youth’s disinclination toward agro activities.
Tackling all mentioned challenges demand a comprehensive policy as well as applied strategies; to this end, an advanced farm rental system was introduced.
Hindering of farm fragmentation and protecting the peasant system, the rental farm system dates back to the initial governments of the Iran Plateau, when kings rented out their own farms to the local influential people and received goods as rent.
In the Sassanid era, the rulers leased the state lands to farmers, who were rich enough to manage farms, receiving levy as a kind of rent. The rental farming system continued as the land tenure system until the Safavid era. However, in the Qajar period, it underwent great changes, benefiting tenants.
Before the land revolution of the previous regime, there were three kinds of farm rental system. First, the landlords rented the whole or a part of the village, then as owners, they cultivated the farms by employing small scale farmers, received the ownership interests and paid the share of the original owners afterward.
Second, small-scale landlords farmed out their land, the tenant cultivated the farm by himself, nonetheless, the tenant was not allowed to assign the object of the lease to the third party, and moreover, the final crops would be divided between landlord and tenant based on the tenancy agreement.
The third kind is the long-term renting of the endowed or state farms.
As a result of land reform, many big farms as well as state lands were sold to peasants; however, many of the small-scale farmers were deprived of land ownership, since they did not cultivate any land at the time of land reforms.
The landless farmers have sustained the agro activities through the farm rental system.
Ordinarily, in this system, the tenants produced more than their needs, paying the landlords in cash or kind; besides, they did not have to do forced labor for the landlords.
This system is money-economy. Despite that, the tenancy agreement is unwritten, but the interest of the tenant is secured because of socioeconomic basis as well as his/her financial capacity.
The governing relations of the rental farming system have been institutionalized in the course of time; however, these regulations were based on established usage rather than legally written documents. Under the influence of the governing social confidence of rural communities, these regulations were accepted and applied as oral laws by the tenants, landlords as well as social bodies.
*Hossein Shirzad is deputy minister of Agricultural Jihad and CEO of the Central Organization for Rural Cooperatives (CORC).