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Dr. W.R. Reddy
Joint Secretary (Agri. Census)
 

I N T R O D U C T I O N

Agriculture plays an important role in India’s economy. It provides gainful employment to a large section of population of the country, particularly, the rural population.  In view of the importance of agriculture, the basic data on structure and characteristics of agricultural holdings, Govt. of India has been conducting comprehensive Agriculture Census as a part of the World Agriculture Census Programme. The first comprehensive Agriculture Census was carried out with Agriculture year 1970-71 as the reference. This was one of the biggest operations in Agricultural Statistics ever launched in India in which over one lakh village level functionaries involved in the collection of data on various characteristics of 71.0 million operational holdings in the country. The significance of the operation does not lie in its size but for its great importance for intelligent and purposeful planning at the micro/macro level.  Operational holding is the basic unit of decision-making in agriculture and, therefore, for formulation of any meaningful and effective strategy for agricultural development, detailed data on structure of agricultural holdings and its characteristics are absolutely necessary.  The Census data fills in this long-felt gap in agricultural statistics.

The Census is carried out by the States/Union Territories under the overall technical and administrative support from the Ministry of Agriculture.  It is a Central Sector Scheme being financed completely by the Govt. of India.  The field work is carried out by the Primary Reporting Agencies of the Revenue Departments in most of the States.  In some of the States, primary staff of the Agriculture Department is also put on this job.  Supervision of the field work is done by the supervisory officers of the Revenue/Agriculture/Statistics Departments, of the State Governments.

For the collection of Census data, the States have been grouped into two categories viz., Land Record States and Non-Land Record States, where in different statistical techniques are adopted for data collection and estimation. Out of thirty five States/Union Territories in the country, twenty two fall in the category of former and the rest thirteen in the latter.  About 90 percent of the operational holdings are covered by the Land-Record States and the rest in the Non-Land Record States. 

 The present Report on Agriculture Census 2000-01 is the Seventh in the series.  The report contains historical background, organization of Agriculture Census, concepts, definitions, sampling design, estimation procedure, limitations of data besides analysis of All India and States data.

The number of operational holdings has been showing consistent increase in each successive Agriculture Census since 1970-71. The number of holdings,  which was 71.0 million in 1970-71 went up to 81.6 million, 88.9 million, 97.2 million, 106.6 million, 115.6 million and 119.9 million (excluding Jharkhand State) in 1976-77, 1980-81, 1985-86, 1990‑91, 1995-96 and 2000-01 respectively. The variation between two consecutive Censuses, commencing from 1970-71, was 14.9 percent, 9.0 percent 9.3 percent, 9.8 percent, 8.4 percent and 3.7 percent respectively. Out of the total number of operational holdings of 119.9 million in 2000-01, the male operational holdings constituted about 89.0 percent while female operational holdings were 10.8 percent, with clear gender bias. The rest of the operational holdings were Institutional. The corresponding percentages in 1995-96 were 90.3 and 9.5. The percentage of female operational holdings in 2000-01 was consistently more in each type of holdings, like, marginal, small, semi-medium, medium and large, as compared to 1995-96. The highest percentage increase in the operational holdings was noticed in the case of marginal (5.9 percent) followed by small (4.8 percent).  However, it decreased by 1.7 percent, 7.3 percent and 12.4 percent in semi-medium, medium and large holdings respectively with the overall increase of 3.7 percent in 2000-01 as compared to 1995-96.

 The operated area which was 162.1 million hectares in 1970-71 marginally increased over the Census up to 1990-91 and decrease thereafter touching 159.4 million hectares (excluding Jharkhand State) in the current Census.

 The average size of holdings for ‘all sizes’ at all India level had shown a steady decline over all the censuses, while in 1970-71, it was 2.28 hectares which came down to 2.00 hectares in 1976-77, 1.84 hectares in 1980-81, 1.69 hectares in 1985-86, 1.55 hectares in 1990-91 which further reduced to 1.41 hectares during 1995-96 and 1.33 hectares in 2000-01.   The same relating to male and female operational holdings was 1.35 hectares and 1.03 hectares respectively, in 2000-01 against 1.44 hectares and 1.06 hectares in 1995-96.  The average operated area in ‘all size’ classes had decreased in 2000-01 relating to both male and female operational holdings as compared to 1995-96.

 In the report, an attempt has been made to present the data on different parameters of agricultural holdings in objective and concise form. It is hoped that policy makers, researchers and any one concerned with agricultural development would find this report useful.

 I am happy to place on record the work done by Sh. B.K. Tyagi, Director (Agri. Census), Sh. A.K. Ojha, Dy. Director (Agri. Census) and staff of the Agriculture Census Division at the Centre and also States/Union Territories in brining out this publication at the earliest. The assistance provided by the National Informatics Centre, New Delhi in computerizing the Agriculture Census 2000-01 data, is appreciated.

 (Dr. W.R. Reddy)

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