The States of Haryana and Punjab have a maximum amount of available geographical area under agriculture, and so do the farmers in these States have one of the highest landholdings in the country.
A look at the data sourced from the recent answers in Lok Sabha shows that these States witnessed the decline in the number of cultivators and increase in the number of agricultural labourers.
In a reply in Lok Sabha recently, Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister, quoted the land use statistics data for 2017-18. According to this data, 85.03 per cent of available geographical area in Haryana was under agriculture and 84.09 per cent in Punjab. The national average of geographical area available for agriculture was 55.03 per cent.
It was as low as 4.86 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir, 5.06 per cent in Arunachal Pradesh, 3.39 per cent in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and 9.09 per cent in Chandigarh. The geographical area available for agriculture was 14.66 per cent in Himachal Pradesh, 17.46 per cent in Mizoram, and 13.66 per cent in Sikkim.
Total agricultural land consists of net area sown, current fallows, culturable waste and land under miscellaneous tree crops.
Cultivators down, agri labourers up
Though the latest data on the number of cultivators and agricultural labourers is not available, the 2011 Census data, which was made available in Lok Sabha to a query, showed that there was a decline of 7.15 per cent in the number of cultivators and an increase of 26.02 per cent in the number of agricultural labourers in the country between 2001 and 2011.
Barring the states of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya, all other States witnessed a decline in the number of cultivators between 2001 and 2011. The number of cultivators declined from 22.17 million in 2001 to 19.06 million in 2011 in Uttar Pradesh.
There was a decline of 7.25 per cent and 21.77 per cent in the number of cultivators in Punjab and Haryana, respectively, between the Census of 2001 and 2011. However, the number of agricultural labourers witnessed a growth of 6.29 per cent 16.34 per cent in Punjab and Haryana, respectively, during the period.
The number of agricultural labourers went up significantly in States such as Uttar Pradesh (6.54 million), Bihar (4.93 million), Madhya Pradesh (4.79 million), the undivided Andhra Pradesh (3.14 million), West Bengal (2.83 million), Maharashtra (2.67 million), Rajasthan (2.41 million), Chhattisgarh (2 million), Odisha (1.74 million), Jharkhand (1.59 million), and Gujarat (1.68 million) during the period.
The southernmost States of Kerala has a different story to tell when it comes to agriculture. While a majority of states witnessed a growth in the number of agricultural labourers between 2001 and 2011, Kerala witnessed a decline of 0.30 million during the period.
Known for its rubber and coconut plantations, Kerala was one of the States to be above the national average at 57.80 per cent when it comes to geographical area available for agriculture.
However, the average size of landholding in the States was the lowest in India at 0.18 hectare according to the Agriculture Census of 2015-16.
The average size of landholding was 2.22 hectare in Haryana, and 3.62 hectare in Punjab. The average size of the landholdings in the country was 1.08 hectares as per Agriculture Census.
In fact, Uttar Pradesh, which is the largest States in the country, has an average landholding of 0.73 hectare. Another States bordering Uttar Pradesh–Bihar has even lowest average landholding at 0.39 hectare.
The Agriculture Census categorises the operational land holdings in five size classes. They are: marginal (below 1 hectare), small (1-2 hectare), semi-medium (2-4 hectare), medium (4-10 hectare) and large (10 hectare and above).
In fact, farmers in nearly 39 per cent of the States and UTs have average landholding of below 1 hectare, and in around 47 per cent have between 1-2 hectare. Farmers in only four States recorded average landholding between 2 and 4 hectares, and in only one States (Nagaland) it was recorded above 4 hectares.