J. Inc/. Soc. Agri/. Statist.59( I). 2005. 1-6 Contribution of the National Sample Survey to Indian Agricultural Statistics I S. Ray National Sample Survey Organization, New Delhi 1. INTRODUCTION 2. FUNCTIONS OF NSSO I feel very much honoured by the invitation of the The NSSO functions under the overall guidance ofIndian Society of Agricultural Statistics to deliver the a high powered technical council known as Governingpresidential address in its 58 th Session. I have got an Council with requisite independence and autonomy inopportunity to revive my contacts with the Society for the matter of data collection, data processing andwhich I worked for a very short time immediately after publication of survey results. The independence of thethe completion of my studies in the Institute of Governing Council ensures providing best possibleAgricultural Research Statistics during 1969. inputs of technical skill in the system of designing the survey instruments, data collection, data processing and As we know, National Income is one of the preparation of reports so as to improve and maintain theimportant indicators for measuring performance and quality of data in terms of reliability and timelygrowth ofthe economy. But for working out the national dissemination without any interference or influence byincome in India, there were no adequate data available the Government. The Governing Council consists of aprior to independence. In order to overcome the problem, non-official chairman who is a man ofeminence in eitherat the instance of the then Prime Minister, Pandit ofthe fields of economics, statistics and social sciences.Jawaharlal Nehru, a National Income Committee under Members ofthe Council are five academicians, five datathe Chairmanship of Prof. P.C. Mahalanobis wasappointed by the Government of India in 1949 to work users from Central as well as State Governments andout a reliable method of estimating national income. As Senior Statistical Officers of the Ministry of Statisticsa follow up of its recommendations, the Directorate of and Programme Implementation. The Director GeneralNational Sample Survey (NSS) was set up in 1950 to and ChiefExecutive Officer ofthe NSSO is the Membercollect essential data relating to socio-economic Secretary to the Council and is responsible for cocharacteristics and agricultural production. Since then, ordinating and supervising all activities of thegradually the NSS has been growing over the years. In organization.1969, Government ofIndia set up a three-man Committee The NSSO conducts nation-wide large scale, multi(Shri B. Sivaraman, Prof. V.M. Dandekar and purpose and integrated socio-economic enquiries basedProf. Raghuraj Bahadur) to review the functioning of on sample surveys for collecting data on various facetsthe NSS and as a follow up ofthe recommendations made of the national economy in order to provide estimates ofby the Committee, the NSS was reorganized in 1970 by different parameters at state and national level.bringing out various activities like designing of surveys, Household approach is used for socio-economic surveysfield work and data processing under a single and site approach is used for enterprise surveys.organization as National Sample Survey Organization Generally the sample design adopted is a two stage one,(NSSO). Today, the NSSO is the largest organization of first stage units being villages in rural areas and urbanits kind in the world. frame survey (UFS) blocks in urban areas. The second stage units are households in case of socio-economic surveys and enterprises in case of enterprise surveys. In I Technical Address at 58th Annual Conference ofthe Indian Society ofAgricultural Statistics held at Central case of the former, the frame for the first stage units is Murine Fisheries Research Institute (l.C.A.R.), the list of census villages and UFS blocks, each block Tutapuram PO, Kochi on January 20, 2005. being a compact area-unit having 120-160 households
2 JOURNAL OF THE INDIAN SOCIETY OF AGRICULTURAL STATISTiCSor 600-800 population in the urban sector and in the case surveys had to cope with enormous difficulties due toof the latter, it is the list of villages and blocks with the conflicting systems of weights and measures prevailingconcentration of enterprises obtained through the then in the country. The first survey detected 143 differentEconomic Census conducted periodically. systems ofmeasurement ofweight, 150 different systems of measurement of volume, and 180 different systems The NSSO conducts surveys on subjects like of measurement ofland area. As a result, whenever the(i) Household consumer expenditure, (ii) Employment estimates ofquantities were made, very careful scrutinyunemployment, (iii) Health and medical services, was necessary to convert local measures into standard(iv) Education, (v) Disability, (vi) Housing condition, units. Thus a great deal of additional work had to be(vii) Land and livestock holdings. (viii) Debt and done for scrutiny and conversion to standard units at theinvestment, and (ix) Activities of unorganised stage of analysis in comparison with surveys in othermanufacturing, trade and services as follow-up surveys countries. Over the years, these measures have stabilisedof the Economic Census. In addition, it undertak~s the to standard metric units in case ofconsumer expenditurefieldwork for the Annual Survey ofIndustries under the survey.Collection of Statistics Act, 1953. It undertakes the UrbanFrame Survey for preparation of urban frames used for (ii) The first household survey oflandholdings wasdrawing of urban samples. It also collects regularly price conducted in its 8th round during July, 1954 - March,data from rural and urban sectors. In case ofagricultural 1955. The concepts, definitions and standards of thestatistics, the NSSO provides technical guidance to States survey were settled at a conference of central and statefor conducting crop estimation surveys and keeps a statisticians held at Calcutta in March, 1954. Dr. F. Yates,continuous watch on the quality ofcrop statistics through FRS who was fortunately in India then, participated inthe scheme of Improvement of Crop Statistics (lCS). the discussions. This historic enquiry threw up data onBased on observations of the NSSO, necessary the size distribution of ownership. The survey was ofimprovements are made in the estimates of crop yield. immediate interest in connection with the land policy of the Government ofIridia. Information on the distribution 3. EARLIER PIONEERING WORKS of land owned by size on a country-wide scale was OFTHENSS obtained for the first time. It was observed that the distribution of land was extremely concentrated with a I shall touch upon in briefthe work done by NSS in small minority owning most of the land. It was the firstthe past and presently being done in the NSSO. time that the NSS report on land holdings provided a The NSS conducted many pioneering enquiries in comprehensive measure of the margin of uncertainty of1950s and its work was acclaimed in the international the results for a number of items.circles. Some of these are as follows: (iii) The NSS conducted the crop survey in its 13 th (i) The first All-India consumer expenditure survey round during September, 1957 - May, 1958 for estimatingwas conducted in the first round ofNSS during October, the productions of the major cereals. It covered the1950 to March, 1951 in rural areas only in a sample of autumn, winter and spring crops and gave estimates of1833 vitlages out of about 5,60,000 for the whole both area sown and total production. The data on landcountry. The sample units were selected in two stages. utilisation were collected by actual observation of aFirst, the villages were selected after suitable number of selected survey numbers (plots) in a samplestratification. Within each sample village all or a sub village whereas the data on yield of cereal crops weresample of 80 households, whichever was less, were collected by actually harvesting the crop from a circularstratified into agricultural and non-agricultural classes. area at random in the plots selected for crop cuttingSample households were then selected at random from experiments. The survey gave an estimate of68.1 millioneach of these strata. About 350 investigators were tons for seven major cereals ofrice, wheat,jowar, bajra,deployed to collect data by interview method. The ragi, maize and barley as against the official estimate ofreference period of data collection was one year July, 51.3 million tons given by the Ministry of Food and1949 to June, 1950. The report based on this survey Agriculture. The official figures of production werehas given the picture of rural India as regards the level prepared by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture basedand patterns ofconsumption expenditure. The early NSS on the acreage figures and yield rates supplied by
CONTRIBUTION OF THE NATIONAL SAMPLE SURVEY TO INDIAN AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS 3different State Governments. Data collection methods 15,500 crop-cutting experiments distributer!and also concepts and definitions used by the States for among principal crops in various statescrop acreage and yield rate varied from State to State, Ofcourse, states are also doing similarjobs on equalwhereas the NSS adopted uniform procedure and used number of samples.well trained investigators for data collection. Obviouslythere was difference between the two sets of estimates, In the case of sample checks on crop cuttingwhich was of high magnitude. However, the NSS experiments, FOD associates itself with all aspects ofcontinued the crop survey up to 24th round which was operations, which include selection of sample villages,conducted during July, 1969 - June, 1970. Naturally, training of field staff, supervision of fieldwork andtwo sets ofestimates of crop production were generated estimation of crop yield. It ensures the adoption ofand the differences between two sets also continued uniform concepts and definitions, standard methodologyduring those years. In order to probe into these high and procedures. The CES data are then analyzed anddifferences, a technical committee on crop statistics was the results are brought out in an annual publication.set up in 1963 and the committee favoured, inter alia, Presently CES provides information for 22 major Statesthe estimate based on complete enumeration. As a and 6 other States & Union Territories, which accountconsequence, the NSS discontinued Land Utilization for about 95% of the production of food grains in theSurvey and also Crop Cutting Experiments in the year country.1970-71 under household survey. Thereafter, the NSSOintroduced the ICS scheme in place of crop survey. The estimation of the yields of principal food and non-food crops based on sound sampling method is now 4. WORK PRESENTLY BEING DONE IN carried out regularly in almost all the states. The AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS traditional method of estimation of crop production by eye-estimation has been gradually replaced by the(a) The Scheme of Improvement of Crop Statistics objective assessment through the crop cutting experiments and the crop estimation surveys, which form The ICS was introduced by the NSSO in 1973-74 the basis ofproduction estimates. As already stated, onewith a view to locate, through joint efforts ofcentral and of the main objectives of the ICS scheme is to monitorstate authorities every year, the weakness in the -state the performance of the primary reporting agency in thesystem ofcrop estimation in different states and suggest Timely Reporting Scheme (TRS) and Establishment ofremedial measures to effect long-lasting improvements an Agency for Reporting Agricultural Statisticsin the system. It also envisaged that the NSSO should (EARAS) villages. Uqder the TRS, the primary agenciesprovide technical guidance to states to organize crop are entrusted with the task ofcollecting and aggregatingestimation surveys. Since the introduction ofthe scheme, crop areas at village level in all the temporarily settledthe NSSO has been playing a very important role in states. The scheme was introduced by the Governmentproviding technical guidance to the States/UTs for ofIndia in the year 1968 in order to meet the requirementorganizing and conducting Crop Estimation Surveys of timely and reliable data on crop areas. EARAS(CES) for estimating yield rates of principal crops and provides for setting up, in a phased manner, a wholealso in training the field staff. This work is being done time agency having statistical personnel specially trainedby the Field Operations Division (FOD) ofNSSO. In for the purpose to cover a sample of20% villages everyfact, the NSSO undertakes the following activities: year in such a way that all the villages of permanently (i) Physical verification of crop enumeration done settled states (Kerala, West Bengal and Orissa) are by the patwaris in a sample of about 5,000 covered in a time span of 5 years as there is no elaborate villages in each agricultural season system ofland records in these States. Estimates ofland use and area under crops are generated through random (ii) Checking about the accuracy ofthe area statistics surveys. With a view to toning up the system of area transmitted from the village level through crop reporting to obtain reliable and timely estimates, EARAS abstracts in the same set of villages has been set up. The major findings of the ICS survey during the agricultural year 2001-02 in regard to area (iii) Providing technical guidance and supervision statistics are as follows: at the harvest stage in the conduct of about
4 JOURNAL OF THE INDIAN SOCIETY OF AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS (i) Only in about 58 % ofthe villages, TRS work is (b) Crop Calendar done in time at all India level. In some of the As the Crop Calendar is an important tool in the States like Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand timely formulation of Governmental policies relating to completion ofTRS work is very poor. Agriculture Sector, the Indian Crop Calendar was first (ii) The patwaris submit crop statements without prepared and published by the Ministry of Agriculture completing the girdawari in about 9 per cent of in 1966-67. During 1998-2000, the FOD ofNSSO took the villages. up the task of updating the Indian Crop Calendar on priority basis in consultation with the State Agricultural (iii) Village crop statements are submitted from only Statistics Authorities (SASAs) in two phases. The around 63 per cent of the sample villages and calendar brought out by the NSSO provides useful around 39 per cent only by due date. information on agricultural practices prevalent in various (iv) Crop entries of the patwari and the supervisor parts of the country. The phases are as follows: do not tally with each other in about one third (i) Phase-I: Providing information at State level, of the survey numbers. relating to the periods of different agricultural The above findings are a clear indication of the operations namely: sowing, harvesting andpatwari s neglect of one of his major functions. This has marketing for principal crops.also been pointed out by the National Statistical (ii) Phase-II: Providing information onCommission. It is a matter of concern that this has beengoing on·for many years. Based on ICS findings, the • District-wise periods ofsowing, harvesting andfollowing major shortcomings and deficiencies have marketing of principal crops for different Agrobeen observed in the conduct of crop cutting Climatic Zones in a State.experiments: • Month-wise different agricultural operations in (i) Wrong selection of survey number and plot the State like preparation of the soils, sowing and transplanting, growing & maturing, (ii) Incorrect measurement of the plot harvesting and threshing. (iii) Use of non-standard weights and balance and • Crop-wise agricultural operations in a State. (iv) Delegation of field-work to untrained staff • Crop seasons and rotations. These findings have been brought to the notice of • Ancillary information regarding use of variousthe State Governments by the NSSO (FOD) through the equipment, technology, source of irrigation,season wise status reports regularly. Further, these are agencies for providing financial assistance etc.also highlighted by the NSSO (FOD) in the meetings ofthe high-level coordination committees for agricultural (c) Land and Livestock Holdingsstatistics in various States, which are attended by seniorofficers from the Union Ministry of Agriculture & In addition, the NSSO conducts decennially theCooperation and also from State Departments of survey on land and livestock holdings. The latest in theAgriculture, Revenue, and Directorate of Economics & series ofland and livestock holdings surveys is the NSS,Statistics and others. However, it has been observed that 59th round conducted during January to December, 2003.remedial measures are not taken generally with due The survey data are being processed for tabulation.attention by the agencies concerned to remove the Results will be brought out in the form of reports in duebottlenecks and deficiencies due to which similar course.mistakes are found repeated over the years. It may bementioned that such observations in the status report 5. SURVEYS OF SPECIAL INTERESTcover deficiencies with regard to both area and yield The NSSO conducts occasionally surveys ofspecialrates. It is, therefore, necessary that these issues are interest. Recently the NSSO has conducted such a surveyaddressed by the States seriously. tangentially related to agricultural statistics. The survey
CONTRIBUTION OF THE NATIONAL SAMPLE SURVEY TO INDIAN AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS 5is known as Situation Assessment Survey of farmers. is felt that a beginning could be made in India byThe millions of farmers of India have made significant integrating the technique with agriculture surveys undercontributions in providing food and nutrition to the entire the existing ICS programme so as to improve the estimatenation and provided livelihood to millions of people of of crop areas. Using the supervised data under thethe country. During the five decades of planned modified sampling methodology, the estimate could bep.conomic development, India has moved from food independently obtained against the TRS scheme throughshortage and imports to self-sufficiency and exports. patwari. The pilot study for comparing remote sensingFood security and well being of the farmers are major based area estimate at village level with that ofareas of concern of the planners of Indian agriculture. completely enumerated area estimate through NSSO wasIn order to have a snapshot picture of the farming taken up in 6 villages. The results were examined to seecommunity and also to analyse the impact of the if the Remote Sensing Technology could be used fortransformation induced by public policy, investments and making better estimate of production and it is observedtechnological change on the farmers access to resources that there is need for further improvement in theand income as well as well-being of the farmer technology for its adoption in crop statistics.households at the end of five decades of plannedeconomic development, the NSSO conducted the 7. AREAS OF FUTURE THRUSTSituation Assessment Survey (SAS) offarmers in its NSS59 th round, January - December, 2003 on behalf of the There is a large list of areas where agriculturalMinistry of Agriculture. This survey is the first of its statistics are required to be generated and alsokind conducted by the NSSO. Though information on a improvements are needed in a few existing areas wheremajority of items collected through SAS has been presently statistics are available. The National Statisticalcollected in some NSS rounds, an integrated schedule, Commission set up under the chairmanship ofcovering some basic characteristics offarmer households Dr. C. Rangarajan has given an exhaustive list of73 areasand their access to basic and modem farming resources where either new data are to be generated or furtherwas canvassed for the first time in SAS. Moreover, improvement is required. I have taken only a very fewinformation on consumption of various goods and of them to focus as thrust areas.services was also collected to have an idea about the (i) The ICS Scheme is only meant for samplepattern of consumption expenditure of the farmer checking on the work relating to crop production but nohouseholds. The survey data are presently being correction factors are worked out for adjusting the totalprocessed for tabulation and report will be brought out crop area as an alternate measure. Given the pastshortly. experience of the land utilization surveys of the NSS, it may be possible to derive a correction factor. The 6. INNOVATIVE TECHNIQUES FOR National Statistical Commission also suggested to use IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF NSSO DATA the ICS data for improving the official estimate of crop area. An empirical study using the past ICS data and the The NSSO is always keeping a track of scientific patwari figures has been taken up for arriving at aand technological development and tries to adopt correction factor under the supervision of a technicaladvance t,echniques for bringing improvements in the committee set up by the Ministry of Statistics &field of data collection, processing and dissemination Programme Implementation. However, some moreafter getting them successfully tested through series of exercises are required to be undertaken to arrive at aexperimentations. Advent of Remote Sensing technique final decision.and its application in generating agricultural statisticshave given new opportunities to various agencies in the (ii) In order to formulate a methodology forGovernment to provide timely and accurate agricultural estimation of yield at lower administrative level usingstatistics. Pre-harvest estimates of crop area and the small area estimation technique, a pilot study wasproduction are areas that have received large attention undertaken using Farmers Appraisal Survey Results.in remote sensing application studies in India. On Through this study, it was found that results at lowerexamination of the experiences ofdifferent countries like level i.e. at block level could be derived satisfactorily.USA, etc. on application of remote sensing technique, it This is one of the areas where more studies need to be
6 JOURNAL OF THE INDIAN SOCIETY OF AGRICULTURAL STATISTICSdone with other auxiliary variables. If the technique is NSS Report No.2 (1953). Tables with notes on the seconddeveloped correctly then local area development can be round April - June, 1951.taken up by the planners in a better way. NSS Report No. 10 (1955). First report on land holdings, rural sector. (iii) There is no suitable methodology presentlyavailable for estimating the production of crops such as NSS Report No. 38 (1960). Some results ofthe land utilizationmushroom, herbs and floriculture but their assessment survey and crop cutting experiments. Journal ofIncomeis very essential in view of their growing importance in and Wealth (January, 2000), 22(1).the market economy ofthe country and their contribution Golden Jubilee Publication (May 2000). National Samplein the Gross Domestic Product. For evolving a suitable Survey, Fifty Years in Service ofthe Nation. CPD, NSSO.methodology in this regard, NSSO can associate with Crop Calendar (1998-2000). FOD, NSSO.IASRI and Directorate of Economics & Statistics,Ministry of Agriculture. Report of the National Statistical Commission. Vol. I and II, August, 2001. I thank you all. Report on the Status ofEstimation ofCrop Production in India. 2001-02, FOD, NSSO. REFERENCES Consolidated Results ofCrop Estimation Survey on Principal Crops. 2001-02, FOD, NSSO.NSS General Report No. I (1952) based on the first round October, 1950 - March, 1951.