Agriculture Census 2021/22: Agricultural land in the country has decreased over the past decade
In what could be an eye-opener for policymakers and the government, the Agriculture Census 21/22 has shown that the agricultural land in Nepal has decreased in the last decade. The census made public by the National Statistics Office (NSO) on Thursday shows agricultural land in the country has reduced by 0.3m hectares in the last 10 years.
The census says the total area of agricultural land holdings in Nepal in FY 2021/22 stood at 2.22m, down from 2.52m in FY 2011/12.
According to the census, while the number of families involved in farming has increased, it has been seen that the arable land is decreasing. The number of families involved in agriculture has increased by 0.3m to 4.13m in FY 2021/22 from 3.36m in FY 2011/12.
The land has become more fragmented over the years, according to the census. In the last 10 years, both the total number of land parcels and the average number of land parcels per holding have decreased. “In 2021/22, the total number of parcels is 11,583.9 thousand and the average number of parcels per tenant is 2.8,” says the census. The average parcel size has decreased from 0.21 hectares in 2011/12 to 0.19 hectares in 2021/22.
Most of the agriculture holdings in Nepal are owned and operated by the owners themselves. The census shows 81.6 percent of land holdings are fully owned, 1 percent are fully rented, 0.2 percent are unidentified ownership and 16.8 percent are either partly owned, or rented or under other arrangements.
Of the total land operated by agriculture holdings, 2.12m hectares (95.6 percent) are used for agriculture, 80,700 hectares are covered by forest, 12,900 hectares are used for ponds, and the remaining 3,200 hectares are other land. The area of forest has increased by 46.9 percent and the area of ponds by more than three times in the last one decade.
The majority of agricultural land, which amounted to 1.730m hectares is used for temporary crops which include paddy, maize, wheat, and vegetables while 145,400 hectares is used for permanent crops. In the past 10 years, the land used for temporary crops has decreased by 392,316 hectares, and for permanent crops by 23,093 hectares.
Of the total land used for temporary crops, 1.216m hectares is used for paddy plantation. However, there has been a 16 percent decrease in the area used for paddy plantation in the last decade. “The same trend is observed for maize and wheat,” says the census. However, the census has shown a significant increase in the area used for vegetable farming. The area for vegetable farming has increased to 107,700 hectares in 2021/22 from 84,400 hectares in 2011/12.
While the government and the central bank have been prioritizing agriculture loans directing banks and financial institutions (BFIs) to lend 13 percent of their loans to the agriculture sector, the number of farmers availing such loans has decreased in the last 10 years. According to the census, only 12 percent of farmers have taken agri-loans from the BFIs in 2021/22, down from 22 percent in 2011/12. Of them, 39 percent have taken such loans from cooperatives.
Total area of agricultural land
FY 2021/22 2.22 million hectares
FY 2011/12 2.52 million hectares
Number of families involved in farming
FY 2021/22 4.13 million
FY 2011/12 3.36 million
Of the total land
Used for agriculture 2.12 million hectares
Covered by forest 80,700 hectares
Used for ponds 12,900 hectares
Other land 3,200 hectares
Of agricultural land
Used for temporary crops 1.730 million hectares
Used for permanent crops 145,400 hectares
Area for temporary crops
2021/22 1.216 million hectares
2011/12 1.456 million hectares
2021/22 559,900 hectares
2011/12 673,700 hectares
2021/22 654,200 hectares
2011/12 749,400 hectares
2021/22 107,700 hectares
2011/12 84,400 hectares
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