Agriculture Census 2002


(a). Census of Agriculture

The Census of agriculture is defined to be a government sponsored large-scale Island-wide operation for the collection and derivation of quantitative statistical information on the structure of the agriculture, using agricultural holding as the unit of enumeration and referring to a single agricultural year.

(b) Historical Background

The Census of Production-1921 was the first attempt that made to conduct a Census in the country followed by parcel Censuses in 1924, and 1929. These Censuses were limited to collect the information such as crop area, production and livestock numbers at village level. Subsequently, in 1946, 1952, 1962, 1973 and 1982, five Censuses had been conducted. The Census of Agriculture that was scheduled to undertake in 1992, was not conducted due to the unsettle conditions prevailed on the ground in certain parts of the country. Therefore, the Census of Agriculture 2002 was conducted after lapse of 20 years.

(c) Objectives of the Census

  • To provide data on structure of agriculture needed for the formulation and implementation of agriculture development projects.
  • To provide benchmark information to evaluate the progress of agriculture projects undertaken by the government and for improving current crops and livestock estimates.
  • To provide and update frame of agricultural households, agricultural operators and operational holdings for the purpose to conduct future sample surveys.

(d) Basic Data

Following are the main subjects of information collected through the Census of Agriculture-2002.

  • Agricultural holding
  • Agricultural operators
  • Extent under different crops and land utilization
  • Livestock
  • Agricultural machinery and equipment

(e) Concepts and Definitions

Number of concepts and definitions used in the Census relevant to the data given in this publication are described below.

(1) Agricultural Operator

An agricultural operator is the person responsible for operating the agricultural land and /or livestock. He/She may carry out the agricultural operations by himself/herself or with the assistance of others or simply direct day-to-day operations.

Here the

Operator cultivates the land and/or tends the livestock himself.
He/she may do so with the assistance of hired labour or any other persons.
He/She may simply direct operations by taking decisions only.

It is important to note that the operator need not necessarily be the owner of the land or livestock and also that mere ownership does not entitle a person to be considered as an operator.

This means that a person may attend to all the work needed to cultivate a land or tend livestock, but will not be considered the operator, if there is some one else directing day to day work on the holding. It also means that a person may supervise the work in a holding appearing for all purposes to be in charge of the operations of the holding, but if there is someone else who is giving day to day directions, he/she does not become the operator.

In respect of livestock, any person who is actually responsible for the management of livestock in the same way that a land operator is responsible for his holding will be considered as the operator. The livestock may be owned, obtained on "Ande" or lease or any other form of arrangement. While most livestock operators will also be land operators, there would be cases of livestock operators who are not land operators and therefore they may have no land holding. The term agricultural operator includes both land operator as well as purely livestock or poultry operator.

While most of the operators have only one holding, there could be cases of an operator having more than one holding.

(2) Agricultural Holding

An agricultural holding consists of all land and/or livestock used wholly or partly for agricultural production and is operated under one operational status and situated within one Divisional Secretariat. (D.S.) Division subject to the following conditions:

  • One holding may consist of one or more parcels.
  • Does not matter whether operator owns the land or not.
  • Does not matter whether the land is operated legally or not.
  • Holding may consist only crops, only livestock or crops and livestock.
  • Does not matter whether the land is very marginal or big in size.
  • Holding may consist only paddy, only highlands or paddy and highlands.

However, any land is situated outside the D.S.division where the operator is resided, it should be considered as a separate agricultural holding taking into account of above conditions.

(3) Total Extent of Holdings

The Total extent of holdings is the combined area of all parcels operated including cultivated and uncultivated area. It includes the total area.

• Owned and operated
• Rented from others and operated under other forms of land tenure
• Occupied by the farm house of dwelling home.

However, it excludes the area rented out to others.

(4) Homegarden

a) A piece of land which has a dwelling house and having some form of cultivation was defined to be a homegarden, if the total area of that piece of land is twenty or less than twenty perches.

b) A piece of land which has some form of cultivation and the total area of which is more than twenty perches was also considered as homegarden, if the following two conditions are satisfied.

1. It has a dwelling house
2. The produce of the cultivated land is largely for home consumption.

“Having some form of cultivation” was meant any cultivation for agriculture production. This will include even one coconut palm or one arecanut tree or couple of chilly plants and it was treated as homegarden, if the above conditions are satisfied.

(5) Household

A household may be (1) a one person household or (2) a multi-person household.

A one person household is one where a person lives by himself and makes separate provision for his food (either cooking it himself or purchasing it.)

A multi-person household is one in which a group of 2 or more persons live together and have common arrangements for cooking and partaking of food (in short, living and eating together). The household includes not only members of the family such as father, mother and children but also, others who live with the family and share meals with them such as relatives, boarders and servants. The members of the household could be unrelated.

In case of lodgers living with the household and having their own arrangements for meals, each holder should be treated as a separate household. But boarders who share meals should be treated as members of the household.

(6) Parcel

A parcel of the holding is any piece of land entirely surrounded by land, water, road, forest etc. not belonging to the same holding. It may consist of one or more fields adjoining to each other, but should be under the same tenureship.

Note that neither the crops grown on a land, nor the type of land has any bearing in determining a parcel. If a piece of highland of a holding adjoins an asweddumized paddy land belonging to the same holding that is having common boundary that piece of highland and aswddumized paddy land together will form one parcel.

(7) Operational Status

Status is categorized into four.

1. Operating Own Account
2. Operating for an Institution
3. Operating for a Private Person
4. Operating in Partnership

1. Operating on Own Account

If the operator bears by himself/herself the full economic responsibility and does not share this with anybody else nor is he answerable to any other person or institution, then he is operating “On own Account”. He/she may or may not employ labour and have family members to help him.

2. For an Institution

In this case the operator manages the operation of the holding on behalf of an institution, such as a private company, or government or Semi Government Organization.

3. For a Private Person

Here the operator manages the operation of the holding as a manager/care taker with a salary/benefit for an individual. The operators managing land and/or livestock on behalf of owners living in the same place or away will come under this category.

4. Operating in Partnership

Here he/she operates the holding jointly with others and shares the responsibility including management with one or more person.

Please note that a single agricultural operator could have more than one operational status.

(8) Land Owned

This includes two categories of land.

(i) Land legally owned where he/she possesses title of ownership and consequently the right to determine to what use, it should be put to as well as the right for transfer.

(ii) Land operates in an owner like possession. i.e. when the holder operates it in an owner-like way even though he/she does not posses the title of ownership.

(9) Agricultural Work

By agricultural work is meant any farm work necessary for the operation of agricultural holding. It will include the physical work of carrying out the various operations on the farm as well as other work such as planning of farm work, keeping of farm accounts. It will also include work done outside the holding but necessary for the operation of the holding such as bringing of fertilizer and other farm necessities to the holding, taking produce to market etc. work related to the operation of the home and construction work done on contract will not be included.

(10) Agrowells

A well which has diameter of not less than 15 feet and covered by a permanent wall, is defined as an agrowell, if it satisfies the following conditions.

  • Should have a capacity of 10,000 gallons (45,000 liters) at the beginning of Yala season.
  • Should have irrigation capacity for at least ½ an acre in Yala season.

(f) Method of Data Collection:

Agriculture in Sri Lanka is carried out in two distinct sectors such as (i). Estate or the plantation sector and (ii). Peasant or the small holding sector. Two methods of data collection were designed which corresponds to these sectors for the easy way of operation in the Census.

1. Estate Sector:

An agricultural holding of 20 acres or more in extent and under the same unit of management was considered as an “Estate”. In the instances where different parcels of the holding may add up to 20 acres or more if so it was not considered as an “Estate”. Estate should have at least one parcel of which the extent should 20 or more in acres. Similarly, the holdings such as purely paddy lands or chena lands of 20 acres or more were not considered as Estates.

2. Small Holding Sector:

All other holdings, which are not falling into the category of estates, were defined as small holdings. Basically, they are the holdings below 20 acres in extent.

The trained Enumerators have visited every Census unit in order of the list frame (F1) that was prepared at the Census of Population 2001 namely: housing unit, Institution, collective living quarters, and non-housing unit in the country and screened out the agricultural operators through a schedule known as AC.1. They have been instructed to have personal interviews with operators and to collect the information. In respect of the Estate sector, the information was collected through mail questionnaires by sending the specific questionnaire to each and every operator/Superintendent according to the inventory of Estates prepared prior to Census proper.

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Agriculture and Environmental Statistics Division
Department of Census and Statistics, Colombo, Sri Lanka.