The average size of the Indian farmland shrank by over six per cent between 2010-11 and 2015-16, with operational holding in the country dropping to 1.08 hectares from 1.15 hectares in 2010-11, provisional estimate of the first phase of the 10th agricultural census released on Monday showed.
With land holding getting smaller, the share of small and marginal holdings in the country, (between zero and two hectares) has risen to 86.21 per cent of total operational holding in 2015-16, which comes to around 126 million, as against 84.97 per cent in 2010-11.
On the other hand, the share of semi-medium and medium operational holdings (2-10 hectares) in total land holdings dropped from 14.29 per cent to 13.22 per cent, while that of large holding (10 hectares and above) fell from 0.71 per cent in 2010-11 to 0.57 per cent in 2015-16.
This also means the number of small holdings in the country has grown in five years, due to fragmentation of land, while that of medium and large holdings have gone down.
Operational holding has been defined as all land 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.
Total operated area, which includes both cultivated and uncultivated, provided part of it is put to farm use, fell from 159.59 million hectares in 2010-11 to 157.14 million hectares in 2015-16.
This latest agriculture census, the 10th such exercise carried out since 1970-71, has a reference period of July to June.
In the first phase of the 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 and ST and others), gender (male/female), types of holding etc. is collected.
In the second phase of the census, detailed data on characteristics of operational holdings such as land use, irrigation status, tenancy particulars are collected, while in the third and final phase, data on the pattern of input use by operational holdings is collected. This is also known Input Survey.
According to an official statement, the percentage share of female operational holders increased from 12.79 per cent in 2010-11 in total holdings to 13.87 per cent in 2015-16 while the corresponding figures of 10.36 per cent and 11.57 per cent in the operated area.
“This shows that more and more females are participating in the management and operation of agricultural lands,” the statement said.
The highest number of operational holders belonged to UP -- out of the 146 million, around 23.82 million was in UP, followed by Bihar (16.41 million), Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.