Methodology & Phases of Data Collection
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Periodic Agriculture Censuses are main sources of information on number and area of operational holdings, basic characteristics of holdings such as land use, cropping patterns, irrigation status, tenancy and dispersal of holdings and is tabulated by different size classes and social groups.  Agriculture Census also provides data on input use pattern for different size classes of operational holdings. Agriculture Census is implemented in 3 distinct phases with reference year as Agriculture Year (July-June).

In India, the Agriculture Census data is collected following two broad approaches- in Land Record States, the information on number and area of operational holdings are collected by Patwaris from a Register popularly known as Khasra. According to Agriculture Census 2010-11 this category covers around 91 % of total reported area of the country. Most of the characteristics on which data are needed are of quantitative nature.

In States where comprehensive land records exist (Land Record States), the Agriculture Census data (Phase-I / Phase-II) is collected and compiled through re-tabulation of information available in the Village Land Records. For other States (Non-Land record States), this data is collected on sample basis. In Phase-I of the Census, data on primary characteristics like number of operational holdings and area operated by different size classes/groups (marginal, small, semi-medium, medium and large), social groups (SC, ST, Others), gender (male/female), types of holding (individual, joint and institutional), etc. are collected. This operation covers all villages in land record States and 20 per cent of the villages in non-land record States.

During Phase-II, holding schedule is canvassed in selected 20 per cent villages in each tehsil for collecting detailed data on irrigation status, tenancy particulars, cropping pattern and dispersal of holdings etc. The estimates of agricultural characteristics of operational holdings are prepared at Tehsil/District/State/National levels.  

The Phase-III of Agriculture Census, (Referred as Input Survey) is conducted as a follow up survey to the Agriculture Census (reference year as next Agriculture year to that of the Agriculture Census) to collect data on input use pattern of operational holdings in the country. Input Survey relates to collection of data on pattern of input use (fertilizer, irrigation, seed, and pest management), agriculture credit, size of the household, age and educational level of the holders, multiple cropping, across various crops according to States and size group of holders. This survey is conducted in 7% of villages selected in each tehsil and estimate for Input characteristics is prepared at District / State / National levels. For Input Survey, institutional holdings and holdings operated by persons not residing in the village are excluded in the purview of the survey.