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Shrinking land holdings in Eastern India; static at all-India level

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Sep 10 (UNI) Operational land holdings in West Bengal, Bihar (including Jharkhand) and Orissa have shrunk considerably since 1991-92, an official survey has revealed.

At the all-India level, however, the size of distribution of operational land holdings exhibited more or less the same degree of concentration in 2002-03 as a decade ago, according to the latest Land and Livestock Holdings Survey (LHS) of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).

In Kerala, a drop in the degree of land concentration was reported in each of three decades prior to 2002-03.

The Survey, conducted by NSSO under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, is one of the main sources of information on ownership and agricultural operation of land in the country.

The Survey found that there were 101.3 million holdings during the kharif season of 2002-03 and their number was put at 95.7 million during the rabi season of the same year.

Average area operated per holding in 2002-03 was 1.06 hectares against 1.34 hectares during 1991-92 and 1.67 hectares in 1981-82.

A total of 52,265 rural households and 29,893 urban households were surveyed. Other highlights of the survey, the sixth in the series, tracing changes in aggregate characteristics and size distributions of operational holdings since 1961-62, were that irrigated land formed 42 per cent of net sown area during kharif season against 67 per cent during rabi and about 64 per cent of net sown area was under cereal cultivation in both seasons of the agricultural year.

Marginal holdings (of one hectare or less) in 2002-03 constituted 70 per cent of all operational holdings, small holdings (1 to 2 hectares) comprised 16 per cent and semi-medium holdings (2 to 4 hectares) 9 per cent. The share of medium holdings (4 to 10 hectares) was at 4 per cent while large holdings (over 10 hectares) was less than one per cent.

"The share of marginal holdings in total operated area climbed by 6 to 7 percentage points since 1991-92 to reach 22-23 per cen, drawing level with the shares of the semi-medium and medium holdings, which had the largest shares in 1991-92," the Survey states.

Significantly, tenant holdings that is holdings with partly or wholly leased-in land, plummeted sharply from 24 per cent to 10 per cent during the period after 1970-71. Tenant holdings, formed about 10 per cent operational holdings during 2002-03 compared to 11 per cent in 1991-92. On an average, a tenant holding operated 0.7 hectares of tenanted land in 2002-03.

The share of leased-in land in total operated area, showing a steady decline from 10.7 per cent in 1960-61, was 6.5 per cent for the kharif season of 2002-03.

Sharecropping remained the most widely prevalent form of lease contract covering 41 per cent of all tenanted land.

However, the shares of "fixed money" and "fixed produce" appeared to be on the increase, together accounting for more than 50 per cent of leased-in land in 2002-03.

Net sown area constituted 87 per cent of operated land during the kharif season dropping to 57 per cent during the rabi season.

UNI SD AB HT1108

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