Regional Agricultural Land Use - A Sectoral Aggregate View
The issues relating to agricultural land use are very wide. Initially, there are the technical issues concerning the natural endowment associated with land in any region, and which deal with the agro-climatic factors determining the production possibility frontiers and preservation of land. Within these production frontiers, the social and economic issues guide and govern the actual land use. The socio-economic factors can be viewed from different angles. First, the institutional angle focusing
... on land as a social asset whose ownership and distribution pattern influence its use and conservation. This angle has greatly enthused the economists since the early times. In India, these aspects of man-land relationship formed the core of agricultural policy in the initial years after Independence, leading to a series of land reform measures. Second, the commercial exploitation angle focusing on land as a productive resource whose disaggregate entemrisewise allocation determines the actual land use. This angle dealing with the cropping and production patterns has also attracted the interest of a large number of studies on the nature and causes of the existing land use and its optimisation at the micro, meso and macro levels. Third, the sectoral aggregate angle focuses on land as a scarce and exhaustible resource whose sectoral allocation and utilisation or under-utilisation determine the aggregate land use and, thereby, the nation's capability to fulfil the mandate for the present and the future. This sectoral aggregate view particularly the under-utilisation aspect has received somewhat scant attention. This paper attempts to investigate into the regional agricultural land use in the country from this angle. For the purpose, the statewise land use statistics are used. On account of some changes in the methodology of reporting during the late fifties, reorganisation among several states, and the technological revolution of the late sixties causing major changes in agricultural land use in some states, the period from 1970-71 to 1990-91 is considered more appropriate for the present analysis. The investigation is confined only to fourteen agriculturally important states for which the reported land use statistics are found to be fairly consistent.