Govt pulled up for not publishing agri-census data

Govt pulled up for not publishing agri-census data

A parliamentary panel has rapped the Centre for not publishing the final data of the Agriculture Census conducted in 2010-11, thus affecting development planning efforts of the government.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, chaired by BJP member Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav, also wanted the agriculture ministry to widen the scope of the Census to include data on number of farmers leaving agriculture.

The Census had revealed that marginal farmers have the largest number of holdings – 92.8 million, followed by small farmers with 24.8 million. In terms of area under operation,however, the semi-medium farmers having land holdings between two and four hectares top the list. Small and medium farmers till 37.7 million hectares of farm land.

The Agriculture Census collates basic data on important aspects of agricultural economy of operational holdings, land use, cropping pattern, irrigation status, tenancy particulars and terms of leasing in the country.

The information collected through the Census constitutes an important input for development planning, socio-economic policy formulation and establishment of national priorities.

On the progress of the Census, the Committee said it was “despaired to note that the final data of agri-census 2010-11 was yet to be finalised even in the year 2014”.
“In today’s world of information technology where emphasis is laid upon timely availability of data, this laxity cannot be condoned,” it said.

The Committee pointed out that the official data released in 2013 had revealed that the percentage of cultivators in the country had declined from 71.9 per cent in 1951 to 45.19 per cent in 2011. At the same time, the percentage of agriculture labourers had increased from 28.1 per cent in 1951 to 54.9 per cent in 2011.

The Committee appreciated the efforts of the government to include collection of data on soil testing in the ongoing Census.

“Declining soil health due to reckless overuse of chemical fertilisers has, in some instances, resulted in cases of soil poisoning,” it said, adding that only authentic data on soil health can help government chart comprehensive measures for nurturing soil health.

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