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2. Agricultural census/survey concepts, definitions and classifications

2. Agricultural census/survey concepts, definitions and classifications

This chapter includes comments and suggestions on concepts, definitions and classifications used in the national agricultural census and survey programmes concerning characteristics of the population. They are focused on the production of more adequate sex-disaggregated data.

The agricultural census/survey programme concepts and definitions concerning the population related with agriculture are based on an updating of those included in cf.(1).

The section on economic characteristics incorporates the international standards adopted by the International Labour Office (ILO) concerning statistics of the economically active population. It also takes into account the revised International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-88) and the revised International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC), Rev.3.

The concepts and definitions used in the national agricultural census or survey programmes for studying the population related with agriculture should be based on those used for the population and housing census. This is one of the reasons why it is of fundamental importance to coordinate adequately the population and the agricultural censuses and surveys.

2.1. Household

The household concept is one of the basic elements of a national statistical system. It is extensively used and quoted here for ease of reference and comparison with other definitions used in agricultural and population censuses or surveys.

The definition of household is used in several aspects of an agricultural census or sample survey programme. In particular, for the following purposes:

"The concept of household is based on the arrangements made by persons, individually or in groups, for providing themselves with food or other essentials for living. A household may be either (a) a one-person household, that is, a person who makes provision for his or her own food or other essentials for living without combining with any other person to form part of a multi-person household, or (b) a multi-person household, that is, a group of two or more persons living together who make common provision for food or other essentials for living. The persons in the group may pool their incomes and have a common budget to a greater or lesser extent; they may be related or unrelated persons or a combination of both. Households usually occupy the whole, part of, or more than one housing unit but they may also be found living in camps, boarding houses or hotels or as administrative personnel in institutions, or they may be homeless. Households consisting of extended families that make common provision for food or of potentially separate households with a common head, resulting from polygamous unions, or households with vacation or other second homes may occupy more than one housing unit. Homeless households are defined as those households without a shelter that would fall within the scope of living quarters"; cf. (3), p. 50.

Various household types must be explained, particularly the extended household, due to the possibility of more than one holding per household. The United Nations recommend a household classification based on the "family nucleus". The family refers to "those members of the household who are related, to a specified degree, through blood, adoption or marriage"; cf. (3), p. 72.

A household may contain more than one family.

A family nucleus consists of one of the following types (each of which must consist of persons living in the same household):

The following household types are identified:

2.2 Head of household

The head of household is the person in the household acknowledged as head by the other members. The head has primary authority and responsibility for household affairs. However, in cases where such authority and responsibility are not vested in one person, special rules may be needed to identify the head of household; cf. (3), p. 70.

The definitions used to identify the head of the household are subject to a certain ambiguity and in some cases tend to exclude women. Precise criteria should be set to avoid arbitrary interpretation on the part of the enumerators and subjective perception on the part of the interviewees. In those countries where male migration is relevant, the absence of the head of the household (at the time of the enumeration or within a specified period of time) should also be considered.

2.3 Relationship with the head of the holder's household

After identification of the head or other reference member of the household, the remaining members of the household should be distinguished in relation to that person, as appropriate, as:

2.4 Age

Age is the time interval between birth date and census date, expressed in completed calendar years.

An age limit should be set in order to identify all children of the household. Similarly, another age limit should be set in order to identify all elderly and retired persons of the household. These age limits should coincide with those adopted for the population and housing census.

2.5 Education

Education can be classified as follows:

It should be recalled that generally women are less educated than men. Thus, the education level of the population related with agriculture is likely to be distorted if the proportion of women in the census/survey does not reflect the actual distribution of the population.

2.6 Marital status

Marital status can be classified as follows:

The distinction between monogamous and polygamous unions is particularly important in the analysis of the agricultural sector. Polygamous unions affect the way agricultural holdings are organized among husbands and wives, the responsibilities of the members of the household/s and the general economic conditions.

2.7 Agricultural holding

An agricultural holding is an economic unit of agricultural production under single management comprising all livestock kept and all land used wholly or partly for agricultural production purposes, without regard to title, legal form, or size. Single management may be exercised by an individual or household, jointly by two or more individuals or households, by a clan or tribe, or by a juridical person such as a corporation, cooperative or government agency. The holding's land may consist of one or more parcels, located in one or more separate areas or in one or more territorial or administrative divisions, providing the parcels share the same production means utilized by the holding, such as labour, farm buildings, machinery or draught animals. The requirement of sharing the same production means should be fulfilled to a degree to justify the consideration of various parcels as components of one economic unit.

Agricultural holdings for a census/survey are defined as those with a minimum size of area, volume or value of production, number of trees, livestock, etc. Such minimum limits are established in order to detect most of the agricultural production of the country, and are determined by operational reasons.

Economic units engaged solely in the following economic activities are not considered agricultural holdings because these economic activities are outside agriculture:

Economic units engaged in agricultural services are not considered agricultural holdings.

Parcel. Field and Plot - The term parcel, as used here, should not be confused with the same term in cadastral work. A holding parcel is any piece of land entirely surrounded by other land, water, road, forest, etc., not forming part of the holding. A parcel may consist of one or more fields adjacent to each other. A field is a piece of land in a parcel separated from the rest of the parcel by easily recognizable demarcation lines, such as paths, cadastral boundaries and/or hedges. A field may consist of one or more plots. A plot is a part or whole of a field on which a specific crop or crop mixture is cultivated.

The following additional points relate to the proper identification of an agricultural holding:

Households and holdings. In rural areas, particularly in developing countries, a one-to-one correspondence between a household and a holding is quite common. For this reason, the households are often used to identify the holders and the holdings, and in particular to identify the holdings without land.

The procedure of defining the head of the household as the head of the holding has been shown to omit agricultural holdings operated by individuals of the same household, and therefore should not be used. In particular, such procedures may underestimate women holders because all the holdings operated by members of the same household might be considered as a single agricultural holding, held by a man.

The number of households whose members operate separate holdings, or the number of holdings operated by two or more persons belonging to different households, is few but nevertheless exists. When considering the relationship between a household and a holding it is important to remember that the former is a complex socio-economic unit, while the latter is a simple economic unit. As such, when studying the holding related to a rural household, whose head is the holder with some household members participating in the work of this holding, it is recommended to consider:

2.8 Holder

The holder is a civil or juridical person who exercises management control over the agricultural holding operation and takes major decisions regarding the use of resources. The holder has technical and economic responsibility for the holding and may undertake all responsibilities directly, or delegate responsibilities related to day-to-day work management to a hired manager.

Identification of agricultural holders. Countries should make enumerators aware, especially in households, that the holder is not always the legal owner of the land, or the older male. The person making the major decisions regarding resource use deciding what and when to plant, what animals to breed, when to cultivate crops and when to harvest crop or livestock items - may very well be a junior or female member of the household. Identifying the holder on the basis of custom, administrative records, or age and sex may distort the final results and lead to an incorrect analysis.

Size of holdings and women holders. It has been observed that in many countries a large percentage of holders of "small" holdings are women. Therefore, it might be convenient to define, without modifying the established minimum size limits of the census/survey holdings a second group of agricultural holdings with a lower minimum size limits. Such group of agricultural holdings, that would be excluded from the census/survey could be studied through special surveys. This may capture, in particular, a significant percentage of women's participation in agriculture, particularly on food production, not provided at present by the census/survey.

2.9 Legal status of holder

The term legal status" is not necessarily confined to the holder's legal characteristics, as it concerns broader aspects for the identification of specific types of holdings. Two types are first differentiated: private and government; then a further disaggregation of private holders is given. In most cases, the private holder is an individual but there may be more than one holder in a given household, each operating a separate holding. If the agricultural operations carried out and commodities produced by different household members are pooled, it is more practical to treat them as one holding. This condition prevails in some regions as a kind of traditional agriculture. In extended households and composite households it is more convenient to identify several holders. The pooling of various holdings, operated by members of the same household, or the splitting of a household into separate households (each corresponding to one holding), avoids double counting of household members for data collected on the holder's household.

Classification for the legal status of holder

Where two or more members of the same household jointly operate the same holding, the holder is considered to be the household. It is possible that a household member who jointly operates such a holding may also be the holder of another holding operated by himself/herself alone.

When two or more individuals of different households jointly operate a holding, they should each be recorded as a joint holder but separate data should be collected for the household of each joint holder.

Juridical persons, such as a corporation or a cooperative, are entities separate from the real persons who form them and they should be defined within the context of national laws and customs. In most countries, joint stock companies constitute typical examples of corporations. Cooperatives include several kinds of organizations in which the principles of individual, joint ownership, or leasehold, are combined to various degrees.

Private holders not specified in any of the mentioned classes should be identified separately. Examples are tribes, clans, private schools and religious institutions other than collective monastic orders or their equivalent.

Government holdings are operated by a central or local government directly or through a special body.

2.10 Hired manager

A hired manager is a civil or juridical person who takes technical and administrative responsibility to manage a holding on a holder's behalf. Responsibilities are limited to making day-to-day decisions to operate the holding, including managing and supervising hired labour. Payment is generally made in cash and/or in kind. Where the hired manager shares economic and financial responsibilities in addition to managing the holding, the hired manager is usually considered a holder or a joint holder.

2.11 Respondent

The respondent is the person from whom data are collected about the statistical unit. The respondent may be the holder, the hired manager or other person knowledgeable about the holding operations,

2.12 Usually economically active population

The census/survey topics on the economic characteristics of the population discussed below concentrate on the population working in the agricultural holdings and take into account the definition of economically active population adopted by the International Labour Organisation; cf. (6), §14-20.

"Conceptually, the economically active population comprises all persons of either sex who provide the supply of labour for the production of economic goods and services, as defined by the United Nations systems of national accounts and balances, during a specified time reference period; cf. (5). According to these systems, the production of economic goods and services includes

Production of economic goods and services also includes own-account construction"; cf. (4), p.9.

Conforming to the above enlarged concept of production of economic goods and services, to measure the economically active population it will be used the concept of "usually economically active population", measured in relation to the agricultural year; cf. (4), p.9.

Usually Economically Active Population

The usually economically active population comprises all persons above a specified age whose main activity status, as determined in terms of number of weeks or days during the agricultural year was "employed" or "unemployed". The "employed" and "unemployed" are defined in respect of current activity during the day of enumeration.

The "minimum ace limit" for usually economically active persons should be set in accordance with conditions in each country, but actually never higher than 15 years. A lower minimum age limit will normally be desirable in developing countries where younger children usually participate in agricultural work. To facilitate international statistical comparisons, tabulations should distinguish between persons under 15 years of age and those aged 15 years and over. A separate tabulation for persons under ten years of age is recommended where that country's minimum age limit is below ten years.

In applying the above definitions of "employed" and "unemployed" in respect to the "usual activity" during the agricultural year, it is necessary to determine the "main activity status" of a person above a specified minimum age.

Two procedures may be followed at the day of enumeration to determine the main activity status of each person. One is to interpret it as the status that prevailed over most of the 365 days of the agricultural year. Another is to set a specific number of days as the cut-off point and classify anyone with at least that many days of economic activity as the "usually active population".

Particular attention should be given to special groups for which the determination of activity status may be difficult, for example active youth, women, in particular unpaid family workers, and the elderly. The common notion that women are generally engaged in home-making duties can result in a serious omission with respect to measuring their activity status. Unless enumerators are explicitly instructed or the questionnaires are explicitly designed to ask about the possible economic activity of women, as they do for men, they may tend automatically to enter women as home makers, particularly if the women are married. This tendency seems to be most pronounced in rural areas where most men are engaged in agriculture and the participation of their wives and daughters as unpaid family workers in agriculture is often overlooked. It can also happen in urban areas where modern economic conditions are rapidly changing the traditional economic role of women; cf. (4), pp. 9-10.

2.12.1 Employed persons including Unpaid Family Workers


The "employed" comprise all persons above a specified age who, during the day of enumeration, were in the following categories:

The notion of some work may be interpreted as work for at least one hour during the day of enumeration.

The following treatment of certain groups of individuals in paid employment or self-employment is recommended:

Unpaid family workers who constitute a subset of employed persons require special mention. The United Nations defines an unpaid family worker as "usually a person who works, without pay, in an economic enterprise operated by a related person living in the same household. Where it is customary for young persons, in particular, to work without pay in an economic enterprise operated by a related person who does not live in the same household, the requirement of living in the same household may be eliminated", cf.(4), p.19. Strict application of the minimum working requirement (net least one third of the normal working hours") for unpaid family workers in agriculture is not recommended; otherwise a large number of people, including many female workers, dividing their working time between study or housework and work on the holding, may be excluded from the economically active population.

Workers on the holding members of the holder's household. Each country should determine the minimum requirement for the amount of time worked on the holding by a member of the holder's household during the reference period, to determine whether the member should be considered to have "worked on the holding" or not. Members who worked on the holding are part of the economically active population

2.12.2 Unemployed persons

Unemployed: The unemployed comprise all persons above a specified age who during the day of enumeration were:

.It is consistent with international standards to include as "unemployed" persons available for work but not actively seeking work because they believe no jobs are available.

2.13 Not usually economically active persons

The population not usually economically active comprises all persons whose main activity status during the agricultural year was neither employed nor unemployed, It comprises the following functional categories:

According to the definition recommended by ILO, an individual should be considered economically active when he/she has worked at least one hour during the reference week. The only "domestic" activities that should not be considered "economic" and therefore identify a home maker are the following:

Activities such as "gathering wild foods", "gathering fuel or fodder", "processing crops for preservation or storage", "kitchen gardening", "collecting water for household use", etc. are economic and preclude the individual from being classified as non economically active. In many cases these activities are not considered as work and this produces distorted results on the role of women in agricultural activities.

To classify holder's household members into economically active and not economically active, the general principle is that participation in an economic activity should always take precedence over participation in a non-economic activity. Hence, employed and unemployed persons should be excluded from the "not economically active population". For example, students or home makers are classified as economically active if they participate in an economic activity during the reference period. Similarly, persons receiving pensions consequent to retirement, but who continue working, should be considered "economically active".

2.14 Occupation: main and secondary occupations

Occupation refers to the type of work done during the reference period by the person employed (or the type of work done previously, if unemployed), irrespective of the industry or the status in employment. Occupation normally applies to economically active persons only.

Occupational statistics should be compiled in accordance with the International Standard Classification of Occupations as revised by ILO in 1988, as already mentioned; cf. (8).

Where the usually active measure is applied, information on occupation should refer to the type of work done or the job held for the longest time during the agricultural year.

For persons reporting more than one occupation, criteria will have to be established for determining the main occupation. The decision can, for example, be based on the occupation on which most time was spent during the period or it can be based on the most remunerative occupation.

Main occupation and secondary occupation: A question on the secondary occupation has a two-fold objective: it records those situations where the individual is only part-time employed on the holding and has another activity in agriculture or in a different sector; it helps capture those situations where the woman identifies herself as a housewife (main occupation) and indicates working on the holding as secondary occupation. This second aspect is particularly relevant to the adequate measurement of women's work. Studies have shown the tendency of women working in agriculture to consider themselves as housewives and to regard activities such as planting and harvesting as housework. Asking about the secondary occupation would probably encourage them to indicate their work other than housework. In the case of a woman working part-time or seasonally on her husband's holding and managing her own holding, she would be recorded as holder (main occupation) and unpaid family worker (secondary occupation) in her husband's holding.

Occupations are classified in the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-88) issued by the International Labour Office (cf.(8)) into the following "Major Groups":

Work in agricultural activities is included in major groups 1, 2, 3, 6 and 9 but most persons in rural areas report occupations belonging to Major Group 6 and 9. The "Major Groups" are divided into "Minor Groups" described in detail in (8). While assigning detail occupation coding for occupations according to local conditions, countries are urged to use the minor groups (or subsets of them) in order to provide internationally comparable classifications on agricultural work.

Group 6, skilled agricultural workers, includes workers whose "tasks require the knowledge and experience necessary to produce farm products"; cf. (8), p. 6.

These may be further subdivided into minor groups relating to their type of activities.

Group 9, elementary occupations, cover workers whose "occupations require the limited knowledge and experience necessary to perform mostly simple and routine tasks, involving the use of hand held tools and in some cases considerable physical effort and with few exceptions only limited personal initiative or judgement. Tasks include: digging and shovelling; loading and unloading; raking, pitching and stocking hay; watering and weeding; picking fruit and other crops; feeding, watering and cleaning animals; etc."; cf.(8), p. 258.

2.15 Industry

Industry refers to the activity of the establishment in which an employed person worked during the time reference period established for data on economic characteristics (or last worked, if unemployed).

It is recommended that countries compile the industrial characteristics of active persons according to the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities, Revision 3 (ISIC-90); cf. (7).

2.16 Status in employment

Status in employment refers to the status of an economically active person with respect to his or her employment, that is, whether he or she is employed (or was, if unemployed) as an employer, own-account worker, employee, unpaid family worker or a member of a producers' cooperative, etc., during the time reference period.

For purposes of international comparability, it is recommended that countries compile the data in accordance with the following status in employment classification:

2.17 Permanent agricultural workers in the holding

A permanent agricultural worker is a person whose services are utilized regularly and continuously during the agricultural year for agricultural work in the holding. The total number of days worked during the agricultural year (normally six months or more) distinguishes a permanent from an occasional worker in some countries. However, a permanent worker may actually work less than six months during the agricultural year, especially in crop production in countries with one crop season. Countries should determine the minimum number of working days or months in accordance with their particular agricultural and other relevant conditions. Permanent agricultural workers on the holding may engage in other work, especially during periods when no significant agricultural work is undertaken.

2.18 Occasional agricultural workers in the holding

An occasional agricultural worker is a person working once or more times during the agricultural year and is not expected to work regularly or continuously in the holding.

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