Land holdings for crop production decline

New Delhi, Aug 30 | Updated: Aug 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
There has been a significant decline in the percentage of land holdings used for crop production over the last two decades, according to a report by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) on Seasonal Variation in the operational land holdings in India, 2002-03 released on Wednesday.

While the number of rabi and kharif holdings have increased, the percentage of holdings used for crop production has fallen. For rabi crops, the fall was from 76% in 1981-82 to 64% in 2002-03. For kharif crops the percentage of holdings fell from 87% in 1981-82 to 81% in 2002-03. This was mainly due to growing diversification in agriculture and increasing engagement in activities other than crop production, according to the report.

This is in tune with the trend highighted by economic think tanks that agriculture is increasingly losing its share in rural incomes.

The report which is an outcome of the the 59th (January-December 203) round of NSSO on land and livestock holdings survey also states that the numbers of kharif and rabi land holdings have undergone a rapid rise in the past two decades while the area operated in both kharif and rabi seasons have fallen considerably during the last decade. There were 28 million more kharif holdings and 23 million more rabi holdings in 2002-03 than in 1981-82, says the report.

While the total area of kharif holdings initially rose from 121 million hectares (mha) to 124 mha during 1981-82 to 1991-92,it fell to 108 mha in 2002-03. A similar pattern was also observed in rabi holdings.

As a consequence of rapid growth in the number of holdings with a decline in area operated there is a decline in the average size of each holding used for cultivation, the report stated.

Of late, economists have been suggesting that the government should focus on creating non crop sources of income in the rural sector.