4.13.1 Data on livestock numbers are collected through a quinquennial Livestock Census that is a complete enumeration of all households with regard to livestock population, poultry, agricultural machinery and fishing craft. The data collected are quite detailed; the livestock is classified according to various species of animals by breed, sex and age. The First Livestock Census was conducted in 1919-20 and the Sixteenth census is in progress with the reference date of 15 October 1997.
4.13.2 The Livestock Census is a Centrally sponsored scheme coordinated by Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture (DESMOA). The census is conducted by the State Animal Husbandry Departments with the help of their field staff. In some States, the field operations are entrusted to the village patwari agency with technical supervision provided by the Department of Animal Husbandry. Reports of the Livestock Census are brought out in two volumes, the first relating to all-India and State-wise data, and the second to the district-wise information.
4.13.3 The Livestock Census is the only source of statistics on livestock numbers, their age and sex structure, and functional classification. The data collected are quite elaborate but the final published output leaves much scope for improvement in terms of timeliness and reliability. The sixteenth census scheduled to be completed in 1997 is still in progress in several States. The time lag in the availability of data from the Livestock Census may be seen from Annexe 4.8. Non-adherence to the reference date, incomplete coverage and spreading the census operations over long stretches of time reduce the utility of the census data.
4.13.4 Although the Livestock Census is based on household enquiry, the census data are not related to the households and their composition. It is important, for example, to have the number of purely livestock holdings classified by main occupation of the head of the household.
4.13.5 Changes in reference date and classification of the population over various censuses also vitiate comparison over time.
Conclusions and Recommendations
4.13.6 In view of the excessive delay in completing the census operation and long time-lag in the availability of census results, it is imperative to reduce drastically the volume of census work so that it can be completed at least within a period of one year, if not in a short interval of a few weeks around the reference date (15 October). It is also essential to ensure better organisation and management of the census through strict compliance to the time schedule, comprehensive training of field staff and regular supervision over the fieldwork. The Commission considers that the Livestock Census too, like the Agricultural Census, should henceforth be taken in a 20 per cent sample of villages in place of cent per cent coverage under the prevailing system. A sample census of this magnitude is quite adequate to provide reliable estimates of livestock numbers with details of principal characteristics down to the level of a district as of now. The sample census facilitates speedy collection of data and a more effective use of available resources for census work, reduces considerably the volume of data processing, and goes a long way in improving the timeliness, content and quality of the final census result. Another important measure towards securing this objective is the extensive use of Information Technology (IT) tools at various levels for processing and transmission of data.
4.13.7 The Commission, therefore, recommends that:
The quinquennial Livestock Census should henceforth be taken in a 20 per cent sample of villages instead of a cent per cent coverage.
The Livestock Census should include some minimum information about the household (size, occupation, etc.) in addition to the head count for more meaningful analysis of the census data.
There should be a concerted effort towards better organisation and management of the Livestock Census operation through comprehensive training of the field staff and regular supervision over their work by both administrative and technical personnel.
Information Technology tools should be used at various stages of the Livestock Census for rapid processing and preparation of the final reports as well as improving the quality of the data.