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Uncultivated Land Area Up by 26% in 5 Yrs Even as Land Holdings Increase: Agriculture Census 2015-16

According to latest data, since 2010-11 when the last census was conducted, total net sown area in the country for all social groups reduced by 0.87 per cent, while total net cultivated area reduced by 0.62 per cent.

Aditya Sharma | News18.com@aditya_shz

Updated:August 25, 2019, 11:38 AM IST
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Uncultivated Land Area Up by 26% in 5 Yrs Even as Land Holdings Increase: Agriculture Census 2015-16
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New Delhi: Total uncultivated land area increased by 26.03 per cent in the country, even though total land holdings increased by 5.85 per cent, data from Department of Agriculture and Cooperation’s Phase II of the Agriculture Census 2015-16 says.

Conducted every five years, the Agriculture Census forms part of a broader system of collection of agricultural statistics in the country. It is a central sector plan scheme that provides 100 per cent financial assistance to the states for collecting basic unit data of operational landholding – all land used wholly or partly for agricultural production.

“This information is tabulated by different size classes (marginal, small, semi-medium, medium and large) and Social Groups including Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, which are needed for development planning, socio-economic policy formulation and establishment of national priorities,” reads the objectives of the scheme.

According to latest data, since 2010-11 when the last census was conducted, total net sown area in the country for all social groups reduced by 0.87 per cent, while total net cultivated area reduced by 0.62 per cent. Although the land holdings for all social groups increased by more than five per cent, the total land holding area decreased by 1.11 per cent. Meanwhile, cropped area kept fallow during a year increased by 2.52 per cent.

These estimates have been derived after the state-wise data from Phase 1 of the census was released in a report earlier this month. “Of the total 146.45 million operational holdings in the country, the highest number of operational holders belonged to Uttar Pradesh (23.82 million) followed by Bihar (16.41 million), Maharashtra (15.29 million), Madhya Pradesh (10.00 million), Karnataka (8.68 million), Andhra Pradesh (8.52 million), Tamil Nadu (7.94 million), Rajasthan (7.66 million), Kerala (7.58 million) etc.,” it read.

Fourteen states alone accounted for about 91 per cent of the total number of operational holdings and about 88.19 per cent of the total area operated in the country; 86.08 per cent of these holdings being small and marginal holdings of less than 2 hectare.

However, the average size of operational holding has declined to 1.08 hectare in 2015-16 as compared to 1.15 in 2010-11, the report noted. This figure, experts say, is decreasing by the day making farming a less viable option for the small and marginal farmer.

Besides, in the middle of a water crisis in the country, the Census data reflects that there has been a 12 per cent increase in the number of holdings receiving irrigation, with the net irrigated area increasing by 5.67 per cent. Wholly irrigated holdings in the country have also risen by 5.14 per cent over the past 5 years, while unirrigated holdings have reduced by 6.23 per cent. Similarly, cropped area under irrigation has also increased, while unirrigated cropped area has decreased.

Phase 2 data of the Agriculture Census also provides data about Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe farmers. Data reflects that SCs and STs hold lesser agriculture land than Other Social Groups. SC farmers also hold lesser wholly irrigated agricultural land than ST farmers. Other social groups hold the highest number of irrigated holdings. Interestingly, Other social groups also hold the highest number of unirrigated holdings, followed by the ST farmers.

In addition, the total net uncultivated land for SCs increased by 10.76 per cent, while it increased for STs by 3.81 per cent. SC farmers also witnessed a higher fall in total net area cultivated vis a vis the ST farmer.

In terms of Small and Marginal land holdings, however, the trends are opposite of that the overall estimates. The net area cultivated in marginal and small land holdings increased by 4.98 per cent for ST farmers, while it only increased by 1.01 per cent for SC farmers.

Furthermore, land lying fallow among SC farmers decreased at a faster rate than ST farmers. Nevertheless, ST farmers with small and marginal holdings witnessed an increase in net sown area of crops by 6.18 per cent, 4 per cent higher than SC farmers.

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