The cost-benefit of land reform

The populist land reform package announced by Nepal's prime minister is preoccupied with the politics of setting new reduced ceilings on agricultural land holdings. Economic considerations targeted towards boosting agricultural productivity are largely ignored. What is required is not a "revolutionary" perspective on determining the maximum amount of agricultural land that one person can own but instead a genuine revolution in the way we approach the justification for and the design of land reform.

 Land reform is back in the public policy spotlight in Nepal after many decades. This time it comes with a "revolutionary" tag. But alas, there is hardly anything new, much less revolutionary, in the objectives and basic design of the land reform programme that has been outlined so far. The central focus is a significant lowering of the ceilings on the maximum amount of agricultural land an individual or family can own, with the excess land to be acquired by the government and distributed to those whom it sees as worthy recipients among Nepal's rural poor.

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Himal Southasian