Agriculture I Notes
India is predominantly an agricultural country. Agriculture is a primary activity as it produces not only the food which we directly consume but also the raw materials which are used in various industries.
Types of Farming
In India, various kinds of agricultural practices are followed.
Primitive Subsistence Farming
- This type of farming is also known as ‘slash and burn agriculture’. Farmers first clear a patch of forest land by burning plants and trees. Food crops are then grown on this patch of land.
- Farming is carried out on small land holdings with primitive or age-old tools such as hoe and digging sticks.
- When the fertility of the soil decreases, another patch of land is cleared for cultivation.
- Because fertilisers and modern tools of cultivation are not used in this type of farming, the production is low. This type of farming is also known as shifting cultivation and is also known by different names in different parts of the country.
Intensive Subsistence Farming
- It is labour-intensive farming and is generally carried out in areas of high population.
- Because the land holdings are not large, farmers use fertilisers and irrigate the fields to increase the productivity of land.
- In this type of farming, the land holding is comparatively large. High-yielding variety seeds, pesticides and insecticides are used in order to increase production.
- Plantation is also a type of commercial farming. In plantations, a single crop is grown on a large area. Huge capital is invested, and fertilisers and irrigation methods are used to increase the productivity of land. The produce of the plantations is used as a raw material in various industries. Tea, coffee and rubber are some important plantation crops.
- The plantation fields are well connected with industries, transport and well-laid roads as plantation crops are mainly produced for the consumption by the markets.
In India, there are three main types of cropping seasons. They are rabi, kharif and zaid.
Types of Cropping Seasons : Rabi
- Sowing Period : Winter (October–December)
- Harvesting Period : Summer (April–June)
- Main Crops or Fruits : Wheat, barley, peas, gram, mustard
- Seasonal Conditions : Rainfall during the winter months in northern India because of western temperate cyclones helps in the growth of crops.
Types of Cropping Seasons : Kharif
- Sowing Period : Beginning of monsoon (July)
- Harvesting Period : September– October
- Main Crops or Fruits : Rice, maize, jowar, groundnut, tur, cotton
- Seasonal Conditions : Much needed moisture is provided by the monsoon rains in India.
Types of Cropping Seasons : Zaid
- Sowing Period : March–April
- Harvesting Period : May–June
- Main Crops or Fruits : Watermelon, cucumber, vegetables, fodder crops
- Seasonal Conditions : These crops are grown between the rabi and kharif seasons. They require warm weather to grow.
In India, many food and non-food crops are grown in different parts of the country.
Rice: It is a staple food crop of majority of the people of India. It is a kharif crop which is grown extensively in the northern plains, northeastern parts of the country and coastal and deltaic regions. Rice requires high temperature (above 25°C) and high rainfall (above 100 cm). India is the second largest producer of rice in the world after China.
Wheat: This is another important crop in India. It is the main food crop consumed by people living mainly in north and northwestern parts of the country. It is a rabi crop which requires cool climate. It requires about 50–75 cm of rainfall evenly distributed throughout the growing period.
The Ganga Satluj plains in the northwest and the black soil region in the Deccan are the two main wheat-growing belts in the country. Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan are major wheat-producing states.
Wheat is a rabi crop which is sown during winters and harvested during summers
Millets: Jowar, bajra and ragi are some important millets which are grown in India. These have high nutritional value. Ragi is rich in calcium and iron. It is grown in the dry regions of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim. Jowar is the third most important food crop grown in India in regard to production. It is grown in the humid areas of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.
Bajra grows on sandy soils. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are major producers of bajra.
Maize: It is a food and a fodder crop. It is a kharif crop (it grows in the rabi season in Bihar) and requires temperatures between 21°C and 27°C. It grows well in the old alluvial soil. Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are some important maize-growing states.
Pulses: Major pulses grown in India are tur, urad, moong, peas and gram. Pulses can be grown even in dry conditions. With the exception of tur, all pulses are leguminous crops which help in restoring nitrogen to the soil. Thus, they are grown in rotation with the other crops. India is the largest producer and consumer of pulses in the world. Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka are major producers of pulses in the country.
Sugarcane: It grows well in the tropical and sub-tropical regions. It requires temperatures between 21°C and 27°C and rainfall up to 100 cm annually. It is a labour-intensive crop. India is the second largest producer of sugarcane in the world after Brazil. Apart from sugar, khandsari, gur and molasses are some important products of sugarcane. Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are some important sugarcane-producing states.
Oil Seeds: Groundnuts, mustard, coconut, sesame, cotton seeds and sunflower seeds are some important oil seeds which are grown in India. Most of these seeds are used in cooking. Some seeds are also used as raw materials for the manufacturing of soaps, cosmetics and ointments. Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh are two major producers of groundnuts in India.
Tea: It is plantation labour-intensive crop. It grows well on well-drained fertile soil in tropical and subtropical regions. It requires warm and moist-free climate throughout the year. It requires rainfall spread throughout the year. Frost is extremely harmful to plants. In India, tea is grown in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Coffee: India is known for growing the Arabica brand of coffee. In India, coffee is grown in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The cultivation of fruits, flowers and vegetables is known as horticulture. India is known for producing varieties of fruits such as mango, litchi, grape and guava. India produces about 13% of the world’s vegetables.
Rubber: It requires moist and humid climate with temperatures above 25°C and more than 200 cm of rainfall. It is grown in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Fibre Crops: Cotton, jute, hemp and natural silk are some fibre crops. Cotton grows well in the black cotton soil of the Deccan Plateau. It needs high temperature, light rainfall and about 210 frost-free days. Major cotton-producing states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
Known as the golden fibre, jute grows well in the fertile soils of the floodplains. It is used in making bags,
ropes, mats and carpets. West Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Odisha are some major jute-producing states.
The rearing of silkworms for the production of silk is known as sericulture. Karnataka and West Bengal are two important silk-producing states.
Technological and Institutional Reforms
The Government of India introduced various reforms to improve productivity and the conditions of farmers.
Some of these reforms were
- Five Year Plans were passed whereby importance was given to land reforms. Green Revolution and White Revolution were started to improve agriculture and milk production. However, it benefited only few farmers.
- To provide cheap loans to the farmers, many ‘Grameen banks’ or cooperative credit societies have been established in various villages.
- Farmers are provided insurance for crop protection, droughts, floods, fire and diseases. Apart from these, Kisan Credit cards and Personal Accident Insurance Scheme (PAIS) have also been initiated by the Government.
However, it is to be noticed that despite these reforms, the share of agriculture in the country’s GDP is declining. It is also not generating enough employment opportunities. Various subsidies provided to the farmers by the Government are on the decline. This has led to increased production costs. Reduction in import duties on agricultural crops has further deteriorated the conditions of the farmers. Farmers are increasingly growing fruits, vegetables and oil seeds. This has reduced the net sown area under the cultivation of cereals and pulses. Excessive irrigation and too much use of pesticides and insecticides have deteriorated the quality of soil resulting in low food production.
India is a welfare state. To ensure the availability of food to all people, the Government of India has started a food security system. Food security consists of two components:
- Buffer stock
- Public distribution system (PDS)
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has the responsibility of purchasing and storing of food grains. It purchases food grains from the farmers at the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the Government.
The distribution of food grains is managed by the PDS.
As MSP subsidies of paddy and wheat are comparatively higher, these crops are grown more. This has created an imbalance in the cropping patterns.
The Government has divided consumers into two categories—below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL). These two categories get food grains at prices fixed by the Government.
However, the declining crop cultivation in the country has raised questions about the food security programme.