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)|
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|
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.