J.C. Kumarappa

                (June 1946Gram Udyog Patrika Part 1, 1939-1946. Madras: Kumarappa Memorial Trust, 1971)

 The basic cause of food shortage is the departure from the village economy of self-sufficiency. Our custom has been to grow in every village enough material to meet all its needs and to afford a reserve for a year or two in cereals. The advent of money economy broke down this rampart of safety. Even the growing of cereals became a money crop. Farmers sold their food material and hoarded their notes which could not command the foreign market in grains, with the result that now we face famine every year. The only remedy is to resort to balanced cultivation of land. 

Every village should determine what food materials, fodder and other necessities, like cotton and oilseeds, it requires and concentrate its production on those, not for the exchange market but for its own use. Every plot of ground must be earmarked for growing a particular crop, not according to the whims of the farmer but according to the dictates of the needs of the village as determined by its council or administration which will authorize the proper use of land by a system of careful licensing. 

The food question which has now assumed serious proportions does not admit of any immediate solution. The problem is twofold. There is an immediate shortage of calories and there is also the long-standing shortage of protective foods. The first problem may find a solution but the second is going to present difficulties. 

It is generally assumed that an acre of land provides more calories through the production of cereals and pulses than through any other food. But apart from the question of calories, cereals and pulses are very poor suppliers of protective food factors. Therefore, if we aim at getting these factors from cereals alone, huge quantities of grain would be required. On the other hand, if these grains are substituted and supplemented by foods like fruits and vegetables, milk and its products, gur, nuts, oil-seeds, etc., the protective food factors required to make up a balanced diet may be obtained through lesser quantities of these types of food than through grains alone. Even the supply of calories per acre is greater in the case of gur and root vegetables and tubers than in the case of cereals. Thus a balanced diet may prove a double blessing and offer the solution to our problem. It reduces the per capita requirement of land and, at the same time, it supplies the body with all its requirements in the correct proportions to keep it fit and healthy. It is calculated that the per capita land available in India at present for food cultivation is about 0.7 acre. This very land, which is found to be inadequate to meet our food requirements according to the present distribution of cultivation, becomes sufficient in the reordered system of agriculture. In this manner the land of the locality should be so distributed for the purposes of growing crops as to provide its population with all the needed materials for a balanced diet, clothing and all other primary necessities. This aspect of the question should be thoroughly investigated and a definite plan chalked out and enforced through licensing farmers to grow only certain crops on their lands. The table overleaf shows land distribution for balanced cultivation for a population of one lakh. 

In addition to food and fodder, balanced cultivation must try to produce raw materials suitable for village industries rather than for city factories. For example, instead of growing thick-rind sugar cane or long staple cotton as demanded by the factories, soft rind sugar cane which can be crushed by village kolhus for gur making and short staple cotton required for hand spinning should be grown. The surplus land can be utilised to supplement crops needed by surrounding districts. Land utilised for sugar cane for the factory, tobacco, jute and other money crops should be reduced to the minimum or even eliminated altogether. 

                            LAND DISTRIBUTION FOR BALANCED CULTIVATION FOR A POPULATION OF ONE LAKH                          Per Lakh of population


Ozs. per day


Lbs. per annum

Land required in acres

For seed and waste 15% extra


Percentage of Land distribution









































































Roots, Tubers








































 This table provides for a balanced vegetarian diet yielding 2860 calories per day for the average person and allows for the growing of cotton for 25 yards of cloth per annum per head. For non-vegetarian diet 6 ozs. of milk may be substituted by 4 ozs. of meat or fish and one egg.


There should be differential land taxes etc. to regulate the price of agricultural products as between themselves and in relation to industrial products. 

Commercial crops such as tobacco, jute, sugarcane etc. are doubly wasteful. They reduce the food production for man as well as for animals which would otherwise have got their fodder from food crops. 

Primary products like cereals and milk should not be allowed to be used for commercial purposes for making starch and casein. 

Unless we tackle, in all earnestness, this question of balanced cultivation with a view to self-sufficiency, all pious plans to avoid food and cloth famine will be in vain. 

It may be mentioned here that what has been outlined above is the right end of planning to begin with. From there we have to proceed, step by step, to public utilities, key industries and large-scale production. To commence with the last-mentioned is to build the pyramid from the apex.


                                      (1946. From the collection: “Swaraj for the Masses.” Published by Akhil Bharatiya Sarva Seva Sangh, Wardha, 1948)


 One of the criticisms commonly levelled against ‘Balanced Cultivation’ that has been suggested as a means of meeting our deficits in primary necessities is that such a plan is narrow and self-centred. The critics say the world has shrunk and we cannot live unto ourselves. They suggest that we should have a world outlook which would enable us to take advantage of production methods evolved in other parts of the world and that we must look upon the whole human race as one family. 

We fully endorse the sentiment and the final goal of the critics and our methods are calculated to lead to that very destination. If a person wants to fly from Delhi to Madras he has to get up from his chair, walk on foot to the car at the steps of his house and drive to the aerodrome and again walk on foot to the gangway and climb up the steps into the plane before he can start flying. It would be childish to argue that walking is primitive, motoring is slow and therefore these should not form part of your journey at all and that you must fly from start to finish. The critics referred to above are in a similar position. 

If we wish to avoid global wars and live in a friendly atmosphere the scramble for primary necessities should cease. Every nation should produce its principal articles of food and clothing. Trade there can be, but only in surpluses in exchange for such articles as cannot be locally produced. This is the very first step towards world brotherhood. It may appear as primitive as walking, but it is a condition precedent to flying and so is neither narrow nor self-centred nor a step backwards. 

If each nation is to be self-sufficient in primary needs, then, as far as practicable, self-sufficiency like charity should begin at home. Every unit, big or small, should strive to become self-sufficient in such article. This is the only way to assure the world of all its needs. When we fail to do this, we give rise to deficit areas that occasion famines and cause distress not only to themselves but to their neighbours also. 

About three decades ago a torpedo fired into the hull of an ocean liner would send it diving into the depths. To safeguard against this they have now divided the hull into several watertight compartments. If one of them springs a leak, the ship as a whole may take on a list but it will not sink. It is no use arguing that we must keep the hull one whole and not divide it into so many compartments. The safety of the whole and its interests lie in subdividing it into several watertight compartments. Likewise, the peace of the world can only be ensured by the removal of the cause of dissension—the scramble for more and yet more trade—from its several component units. Such a course is not self-centred but is the result of a world-wide outlook. 

As yet the human race has not developed that far-sightedness which alone will entitle it to be treated as one family. Does Great Britain, for instance, look upon the expansion of Germany with the fraternal love of an elder brother? This foraging for necessities has impregnated the international atmosphere with hatred and suspicion and we have yet to travel a long way before the world can be looked upon as one unit economically. Mere reduction in the time taken to go from one end of the world to the other does not reduce its size. The world will shrink only when men feel closer to one another drawn by love and fellow-feeling which are lacking today.