Farm size trends across different states

Madhya Pradesh farms

Madhya Pradesh farms

Recently I visited Madhya Pradesh and visited a village with average landholding of 20 acres.  Given that the national average landholding is around 2.5 acres, I was intrigued. I talked with farmers, many of whom owned 7 acres, 20 acres, and 70 acres of land.  Agri-sector professionals whom I met during my visit stated that the average land holding in MP is larger than in UP.  Driving around rural areas I could see large fields (by UP standards) ploughed by tractors.

So upon my return I looked up the farm size numbers by state.  The data confirmed that land holdings in MP are indeed more than double that of UP, averaging 2 ha (5 acres) versus .8 ha (2 acres).  One hectare is approx 2.5 acres.

But the data also threw up some interesting points about other states.

Region/ State Average holding in 2005-06 (hectares)
Haryana 2.23
Punjab 3.95
Uttrakhand 0.94
Uttar Pradesh 0.80
Chhattisgarh 1.51
Madhya Pradesh 2.02
Andhra Pradesh 1.20
Karnataka 1.63
Kerala 0.23
Tamil Nadu 0.83
Gujarat 2.20
Rajasthan 3.38
Maharashtra 1.46
Orissa 1.15
West Bengal 0.79
Bihar 0.43
Assam 1.11
Arunachal Pradesh 3.33

Changes in farm land holding 

As expected, we see larger landholdings in Punjab & Haryana, but Arunachal also has larger farm sizes, as do Gujarat and Rajasthan.  Nagaland was a surprise with the largest average land holding in the country and Kerala the smallest.

Next, I looked for trends over time to see how farm sizes have changed over the years. That turned out to be even more difficult to find than expected. So I decided to put together my own tables by pulling data from multiple years.

Previously on Stirring the Pyramid I had written about farm size trends at an all-India level (see here and here) covering decades from 1960s to recent times.

Between 1996 and 2006, farm sizes shrunk by an average of 13% in India overall.  However, there are very interesting differences across states.  Punjab and Haryana bucked the national trend and experienced a consolidation of farms, registering a 5% growth over the time period. The smaller states of Goa and Nagaland show a much stronger consolidation trend with ~40% increase in land holding sizes.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get comparable numbers for three of the states that I was most interested in learning more about: UP, MP and Bihar, since all of them have been split recently, and the GOI did not bother restating older data for the split states.

Region/ State 2006 1996 %change 1996 to 2006
ALL INDIA 1.23 1.41 -13%
Haryana 2.23 2.13 5%
Punjab 3.95 3.79 4%
Himachal Pradesh 1.04 1.16 -10%
Andhra Pradesh 1.20 1.36 -12%
Karnataka 1.63 1.95 -16%
Kerala 0.23 0.27 -15%
Tamil Nadu 0.83 0.91 -9%
West, NW
Gujarat 2.20 2.62 -16%
Rajasthan 3.38 3.96 -15%
Maharashtra 1.46 1.87 -22%
Goa 1.15 0.84 37%
Orissa 1.15 1.30 -12%
West Bengal 0.79 0.85 -7%
Assam 1.11 1.17 -5%
Arunachal Pradesh 3.33 3.31 1%
Meghalaya 1.18 1.33 -11%
Nagaland 6.93 4.83 43%

Interesting to note that Gujarat, despite its recent agriculture GDP growth, followed the national average rate of farm size reduction.

Maharashtra registered the greatest shrinkage at 22%. Could this rapid change in landholding be one of the causes of the agricultural woes of parts of the state?

Note: I have removed some rows from data tables to make the post more readable.

This entry was posted in Agriculture and farming, Research studies and surveys and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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