The government on Monday released agriculture census for 2015-16 that showed a 1.53 percent decline in total operated area at 157.14 million hectare as compared to 2010-11 data, but a rise in both operational holdings and female participation.
The average size of operational holding declined to 1.08 hectares (ha) in 2015-16 compared to 1.15 ha in 2010-11, as per the provisional data.
The census also found out that the percentage share of female operational holders has increased from 12.79 percent in 2010-11 to 13.87 percent in 2015-16. In terms of operated area, the share of women increased from 10.36 percent to 11.57 percent.
"This shows that more and more females are participating in the management and operation of agricultural lands," an official statement said.
The Agriculture Ministry said the first census was conducted with reference year 1970-71. The census is conducted every five years to collect data on structural aspects of operational holdings in the country. So far, nine censuses have been done and this is the 10th in series.
"The total number of operational holdings in the country has increased from 138 million in 2010-11 to 146 million in 2015-16, i.e an increase of 5.33 per cent," the statement said.
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 the title, legal form, size or location.
Total operated area, which includes both cultivated and uncultivated area provided part of it is put to farm production, fell from 159.59 million ha in 2010-11 to 157.14 million ha in 2015-16.
As per the census data, small and marginal holdings taken together (0-2 ha) constitute 86.21 percent of the total holdings in 2015-16 against 84.97 percent in 2010-11. Their share in the operated area stands at 47.34 percent in the current census as against 44.31 percent in 2010-11.
Semi-medium and medium operational holdings (2-10 ha) in 2015-16 were 13.22 per cent, with 43.61 percent of operated area.
The large holdings (10 ha and above) were merely 0.57 percent of total number of holdings in 2015-16 and had a share of 9.04 percent in the operated area as against 0.71 percent and 10.59 percent, respectively for 2010-11 census.
Out of 146 million operational holdings, the highest number of holders belonged to Uttar Pradesh (23.82 million) followed by Bihar (16.41 million), Maharashtra (14.71 million), Madhya Pradesh (10 million), Karnataka (8.68 million), Andhra Pradesh (8.52 million), Tamil Nadu (7.94 million), Rajasthan (7.65 million) and West Bengal (7.24 million).
In total operated area, the highest contribution was from Rajasthan (20.87 million ha), followed by Maharashtra (19.88 million ha), Uttar Pradesh (17.45 million ha), Madhya Pradesh (15.67 million ha) and Karnataka (11.72 million ha).
Among states, the highest increase in number of operational holdings was in Madhya Pradesh (12.74 per cent) followed by Andhra Pradesh (11.85 percent), Rajasthan (11.12 per cent), Kerala (11.02 per cent), Meghalaya (10.9 percent, Karnataka (10.78 per cent) and Nagaland (10.5 percent).
However, the sharpest fall has been in Goa (28.17 per cent) and lowest in Manipur (0.09 percent).
However, operated area has shown a declining trend in most of the states.
As per the census, 14 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- account for 91.03 percent of total number of operational holdings and 88.08 per cent in terms of area.
The individual, joint and institutional holdings have shown a growth of 5.04 percent, 7.07 percent and 10.88 percent, respectively.
"This report on number and area of operational holdings in India is based on the provisional results of first phase of the current Agriculture Census 2015-16.
"The detailed data at lower administrative levels (district/tehsil etc.) for States and UTs are also being verified by the concerned States and UTs. After, completion of the data verification, the final results would be released within the shortest possible time," the statement said.