Marginal & small holdings saw increased fragmentation & contracted size between 2010-11 and 2015-16, indicates latest Agriculture Census

Marginal & small holdings saw increased fragmentation & contracted size between 2010-11 and 2015-16, indicates latest Agriculture Census

Just a few days ahead of the Kisan Mukti March in Delhi NCR, the provisional results of the Agriculture Census 2015-16 became available in the public domain. The report, among other things, highlights the long-terms problems affecting Indian agriculture including fragmentation of land holdings (particularly the marginal and small ones) and shrinking average size of farm land.

The provisional results of the latest Agriculture Census reveal that at the national level the average size of operational holdings reduced from 1.15 hectare in 2010-11 to 1.08 lakh hectare in 2015-16, which implies declining economic viability as well as sustainability of farming.

From chart-1, it could be discerned that the average size of marginal holdings decreased from 0.39 hectare to 0.38 hectare between 2010-11 and 2015-16, whereas for small holdings it fell down from 1.42 hectare to 1.41 hectare. In case of large holdings, the average size reduced from 17.38 hectare to 17.10 hectare between the two Agri-censuses.



The total number of operational holdings in the country went up from 138.3 million in 2010-11 to 145.7 million 2015-16 viz. by 5.33 percent. It indicates increased fragmentation of land holdings. Please check table-1.

Between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the growth in the number of operational holdings of marginal size (7.6 percent) was the highest, followed by the growth in the number of small size holdings (4.0 percent), semi-medium size holdings (-0.9 percent), medium size holdings (-6.6 percent) and large holdings (-14.6 percent). In other words, it is the marginal size holdings that got fragmented more vis-à-vis holdings of other sizes between 2010-11 and 2015-16. Kindly consult table-1 for details.

Table 1: Number of operational holdings, in '000 (from 1970-71 to 2015-16) – All social groups     
 
Table 1
 
Note: * excluding Jharkhand
Source: Agriculture Census 2015-16 (Phase-I): All India Report on Number and Area of Operational Holdings, Provisional Results, Agriculture Census Division, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare, please click here to access
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The latest Agriculture Census also shows that there is a fall in operated area from 159.59 million-hectare in 2010-11 to 157.14 million-hectare in 2015-16, which is a decrease by 1.53 percent. It is worth noting that operated area includes both cultivated and uncultivated area, provided part of it is put to agricultural production during the reference period.

Prominence of marginal and small holdings


The share of marginal holdings in total number of operational holdings climbed up from 67.10 percent to 68.52 percent between 2010-11 and 2015-16, whereas the share of small holdings (17.91 percent in 2010-11; 17.69 percent in 2015-16), semi-medium holdings (10.04 percent in 2010-11; 9.45 percent in 2015-16), medium holdings (4.25 percent in 2010-11; 3.76 percent in 2015-16) and large holdings (0.70 percent in 2010-11; 0.57 percent in 2015-16) fell during that span.

Although the share of marginal holdings (22.50 percent in 2010-11; 24.16 percent in 2015-16) and small holdings (22.08 percent in 2010-11; 23.19 percent in 2015-16) in the country's total area operated increased between 2010-11 and 2015-16, the share of medium holdings (21.20 percent in 2010-11; 19.96 percent in 2015-16) and large holdings (10.59 percent in 2010-11; 9.04 percent in 2015-16) fell during that span. The share of semi-medium holdings (23.63 percent in 2010-11; 23.65 percent in 2015-16) in total area operated almost remained the same between 2010-11 and 2015-16.

Agricultural holding among SCs & STs

It is worth noting that although the average size of operational holding for the overall population was 1.08 hectare in 2015-16, for persons belonging to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), that was 0.78 hectare and 1.41 hectare, respectively.

The average size of operational holding for STs fell from 1.52 hectare in 2010-11 to 1.41 hectare in 2015-16. Similarly, the average size of operational holding for SCs went down from 0.80 hectare in 2010-11 to 0.78 hectare in 2015-16.

Although SCs comprise 16.6 percent of the country's population as per the Census 2011, their share in the total number of operational holdings was 11.91 percent in 2015-16. On the contrary, STs comprise 8.6 percent of India's population and their share in the total number of operational holdings was 8.72 percent.         

Agricultural holding across gender

At the national level, the average size per holding for male was 1.10 hectare and female was 0.90 hectare. Gender differences in average size per holding was noticeable for marginal holdings (Male: 0.38 hectare; Female: 0.35 hectare); small holdings (Male: 1.42 hectare; Female: 1.39 hectare); semi-medium holdings (Male: 2.70 hectare; Female: 2.65 hectare); medium holdings (Male: 5.72 hectare; Female: 5.66 hectare); and large holdings (Male: 16.06 hectare; Female: 15.76 hectare).

In India the total number of agricultural holding for male was 125.25 million and female was 20.22 million. The operated area for male holding was 137.43 million hectare and female holding was 18.19 million-hectare.

Land situation in states & UTs

If we exclude the North eastern and the smaller states, then the highest fall in the average size per operational holding in absolute terms between 2010-11 and 2015-16 happened for Rajasthan (0.34 hectare), followed by Madhya Pradesh (0.21 hectare), Karnataka (0.2 hectare), Punjab (0.15 hectare), Gujarat (0.15 hectare), Telangana (0.12 hectare), Andhra Pradesh (0.12 hectare) and Chhattisgarh (0.11 hectare). Please check table-2.

Table 2: Average Size per Operational Holding for All Social Groups (2010-11 & 2015-16), in hectare

Table 2
Source: Agriculture Census 2015-16 (Phase-I): All India Report on Number and Area of Operational Holdings, Provisional Results, Agriculture Census Division, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare, please click here to access
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The provisional results show that among the states, the highest growth in the number of operational holdings in 2015-16 as compared to 2010-11 took place in case of Madhya Pradesh (12.74 percent), followed by Andhra Pradesh (11.85 percent), Rajasthan (11.12 percent), Kerala (11.02 percent), Meghalaya (10.90 percent), Karnataka (10.78 percent) and Nagaland (10.50 percent).

Fourteen out of 36 states/ UTs viz. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal accounted for nearly 91.03 percent of total number of operational holdings and roughly 88.08 percent of total area operated in the country.

It needs to be mentioned here that all land, which is used wholly or partly for agricultural production and is operated as one technical unit by one person alone or with others without regard to the title, legal form, size or location, is termed as operational holding as per the Agriculture Census.

Individual, joint and institutional holding

At the national level, the average size per individual holding was 1.03 hectare, joint holding was 1.31 hectare and institutional holding was 5.76 hectare in 2015-16.

In India, the number of individual operational holding was 124.56 million, joint holding was 20.9 million and institutional holding was 0.3 million in 2015-16.

At the country level, the area operated in case of individual holding was 128.19 million-hectare, joint holding was 27.43 million-hectare and institutional holding was 1.53 million-hectare in 2015-16.

Readers may note that if the holding is being operated either by one person or by a group of persons who are the members of the same household, such holding is considered by Agriculture Census as an individual holding. If two or more persons belonging to different households, share jointly as partners in the economic and technical responsibility for the operation of an agricultural holding, such holding is considered as joint holding. Holdings such as government farms, farms of sugarcane factories, cooperative farms, lands managed by trusts are treated as institutional holdings by Agriculture Census.
 
About Agriculture Census

The Agriculture Census in India is conducted at five yearly intervals so as to collect data on structural aspects of operational holdings in the country. The Agriculture Census programme is carried out in three phases at five yearly intervals with the cooperation of states/ UTs.

The reference period for Agriculture Census is the crop year (viz. July-June). The first comprehensive Agriculture Census in the country was conducted with reference year 1970-71. So far, nine Agriculture Censuses have been conducted in the country. The current Agriculture Census with reference year 2015-16 is the tenth in the series.

During Phase-I of the Agriculture Census, data on primary characteristics like number of operational holdings and area operated by different size classes (marginal, small, semi-medium, medium and large), social groups (SC, ST, Others), gender (male/ female), types of holding (individual, joint and institutional), is collected. This operation covers all villages in land record states and 20 percent of the villages in non-land record States.

In Phase-II of the Census, holding schedule is canvassed in selected 20 percent villages in each tehsil for collecting detailed data on characteristics of operational holdings such as land use, irrigation status, tenancy particulars, cropping pattern, etc. Phase – III of the Census, popularly known as Input Survey, relates to the collection of data on the pattern of input use by operational holdings. This survey is conducted in 7 percent of villages selected in each tehsil of the state/ UTs.

References

Agriculture Census 2015-16 (Phase-I): All India Report on Number and Area of Operational Holdings, Provisional Results, Agriculture Census Division, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare, please click here to access
 
Union Primary Census Abstract-2011, please click here to access

Goa sees sharpest dip in farm sizes, Sikkim follows -Kiran Pandey, Down to Earth, 23 November, 2018, please click here to access
 
Average size of farms falls to 1.08 ha in 2015-16, The Hindu Business Line, 1 October, 2018, please click here to access  
 
Image Courtesy: Himanshu Joshi



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