In India, the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has been organizing Agricultural Census, quinquennially, since 1970-71 in collaboration with the States and Union Territories as part of programme of World Census of Agriculture. In the two Agricultural Censuses, namely, 1950 and 1960, data required for the World Agricultural Census were collected through sample Surveys carried out by the erstwhile Directorate of National Sample Survey (Now called 'National Sample Survey Office) which gave estimates for the country as a whole and also for States.

Beginning 1970-71 Census, the methodology adopted was complete enumeration wherein data available in the land records were re-tabulated which was in line with the method recommended by the FAO. In the non-land record States, where comprehensive land records were not maintained, the data were collected through sample surveys.

Due to changes taking place in Indian Agriculture at very fast pace, the National Commission on Agriculture, in their report submitted in 1976, recommended that Agricultural census be conducted on quinquennial basis. Accordingly, the second Agricultural census was conducted with 1976-77 as the reference year. In this Census, information on number and area of operational holdings was collected on complete enumeration basis in land record States and detailed information on characteristics of operational holdings was collected on a sample basis. An Input Survey, in a sample of 2% villages, was also carried out for the first time. In this survey, data relating to use of various inputs such as fertilizers, manures, agricultural implements & machinery and Agricultural credit provided by various credit institutions to different categories of operational holdings were also collected.

The third and fourth Agricultural censuses were carried out with the Agricultural Year 1980-81 and 1985-86 as the reference periods. However, from Input Survey 1991-92, the sample size has been raised to 7% villages in each stratum. So far, ten Agriculture Censuses with reference years 1970-71, 1976-77, 1980-81, 1985-86, 1990-91, 1995-96, 2000-01, 2005-06, 2010-11 and 2015-16 have been conducted. The reference period in Agriculture Census is the agriculture year starting from July to June.