What are the major current trends in fragmentation of land holdings in Indian agriculture?

Published: October 24, 2018

Inability of the Indian economy to shift the excess labour force towards the tertiary sector and lack of capital intensive industries has resulted in overdependence on agriculture for their livelihood. A significant outcome due to this is the fragmentation of land holding.

Trends in fragmentation of land holding

The Agriculture Census 2015–16 highlights the vital statistics about the continued fragmentation of land holdings

  • The census shows that the area under farming in India declined from 159.59 million hectares in 2010–11 to 157.14 million hectares in 2015–16. But the number of operational holdings increased by 5.33%, from 138 million in 2010–11 to 146 million in 2015–16. The average size of operational holdings in India has declined from 1.15 hectares to 1.08 hectares.
  • There has been a proliferation of small and marginal landholdings when compared to the figures from 2011. The census figures show about 86.21% of the landholdings in the country consisted of small and marginal holdings. But the area under cultivation by the small and marginal farmers was only 47% with the average size of just 0.6 hectares.
  • Semi-medium holdings (2 to 4 hectares) made up 9.45% of the total with the operated area of 23.65%.
  • Medium holdings (4 to 10 hectares) constituted 3.76% with an operated area of 19.96%.
  • The large holdings (10 hectares and above) comprised only 0.57% with an operated area of 9.04%.
  • About 92% of holdings operated by SC groups comprised small and marginal holdings.

The continued fragmentation poses several structural constraints before the Indian agriculture. Continued fragmentation does not auger well for agricultural productivity.

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