Need of Data by Operational Holding
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While the system of Agricultural Statistics that existed in India even before independence provided for aggregates at various geographical levels, data on structure of holdings was not classified and tabulated. As early as 1830, the Famine Inquiry Committee stressed the need for adequate statistics of land holdings. Again, the Famine Inquiry Commission of 1945 tried to gauge the relationship between the land tenure systems and efficiency of agricultural production. But the Commission was handicapped in this regard due to non-availability of data and made a number of recommendations for improvement of Agricultural Statistics.

In the context of the strategy for agricultural development after independence, knowledge of the detailed structure and characteristics of agricultural holdings became essential for efficient planning and implementation of programmes. For this purpose, it became imperative to have information by operational holdings as distinct from ownership holdings. Information by ownership holding is no doubt useful to have an idea of the distribution of wealth but information by operational holdings is more important for implementation of the Agricultural Development Programmes as it is the operational holder who makes the decisions. As such, operational holding defined as "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 title, legal form, size or location" is taken as statistical unit for data collection in Agriculture Census. A technical unit is defined as the unit which is under the same management and has the same means of production such as labour force, machinery and animals etc. Agricultural production includes growing different crops, fruits, seeds, tree nurseries (except those of forest trees), vegetables and flowers, plantation crops, fodder and grass etc. Grass is also treated as a crop if special efforts are made to raise it.

The concept of agricultural operational holdings adopted in India differs to some extent with that of FAO, as it does not include those holdings which are not operating any agricultural land and are engaged exclusively in livestock, poultry and fishing etc.

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