ghost farmer
n. A person who owns a large farm but who does not actively engage in farming the land.

Example Citation:
It looks like it is the end of the road for Brunei's 'ghost farmers,' who have been making fortunes pretending to be agriculturists.
—"Brunei: ghost farmers make a kill," Borneo Bulletin, April 19, 2001

Earliest Citation:
The PNDC Chairman said in spite of this serious lapse, the PBD regional managers in the Eastern, Western and Ashanti Regions gave out monies earmarked for purchases during the 1982 light crop to their district officers for the farmers allegedly being owed by the state. He asked: Who were district officers going to pay?, adding that these could be ghost farmers.
—"Dismissal in Ghana of Cocoa Marketing Board's Senior Officials," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, September 28, 1982

Notes:
The more popular synonym for ghost farmer is telephone farmer:

These large-scale farmers include cabinet members and other ministers, members of Parliament, party leaders of the governing Kenya African National Union and senior civil servants. Many are 'telephone farmers' who run things from Nairobi.
—Jack Shepard, "Behind Kenyan Discontent," The New York Times, August 11, 1982

Note, too, that I've also heard the term ghost farmer used to describe a person who cultivates marijuana plants on a secluded patch of someone else's land, but I have yet to see this usage in print.

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