Indian Agriculture

Agriculture is the most fundamental form of
human activity and includes not only cultivation
of crops but also the domestication of animals.
The following are the major agricultural types
and their characteristic features.

Shift ing Cultivation:
Shift ing Cultivation is a kind of traditional farming
practiced by tribes in the hilly and forest regions.
It is practiced especially in tropical Africa. In this
farming an area of ground is cleared of vegetation and cultivated for a few years and then abandoned for
a new area until its fertility has been naturally restored. Th ey are called with diff erent names in diff erent
regions as follows Shift ing Cultivation in Northeast India.

Subsistence Agriculture is a type of farming in
which output is consumed almost entirely by the
farmers and their families leaving only a small
proportion for sale. Farmers follow traditional
method of cultivation in this kind of farming.

Intensive Agriculture is the one in which
the agricultural land is utilised intensively.
Farmers prefer the cultivation of short duration
crops which enables the cultivation of two or
three crops in the same piece of land in a year.

Generally it is practiced wherein the size of the
agricultural land holding is small.

Plantation Agriculture
Plantation agriculture is a form of
commercial farming where crops are grown for
profit. Large land areas are needed for this type
of agriculture. Countries that have plantation
Agriculture usually experience high annual
temperatures and receive high annual rainfall.
Plantation is mainly found in countries that have
a tropical climate. The important plantation
crops are tea, coffee, cocoa, rubber, oil palm,
sugarcane, bananas and pineapples.

Extensive Farming
It is a kind of farming practiced in the
regions where the size of the land holding is
very large. It is practiced in the Interior parts o

semi-arid lands of the mid-latitudes. Wheat is
the major crop of this region and the farming is
highly mechanized.

Mixed Farming:
It is an agricultural system in which a
farmer conducts different agricultural practice
together, such as crops, fishing and livestock.
The aim is to increase income through different
sources and to complement land and labour
demands across the year.

Shifting Agriculture:
This type of agriculture is performed
by tribal people in a piece of forest land after
clearing the trees through felling and burning
the trunks and branches. Once the land is

cleared, crops are grown for two to three years
and the land will get abandoned as the fertility
of the soil decreases. The farmers then move to
new areas and the process will be repeated. They
cultivate some grains and vegetable crops using
the manual labour. It is also called as “Slash and
burn” cultivation.

Dry Farming:
This type of farming is practiced in arid
areas where irrigation facilities are lacking.
Crops cultivated in these areas can withstand
dry conditions. The crops grown generally withthe help of irrigation are also grown under
dry farming. In such circumstances, the yields
are generally low. Most of the areas under dry
cultivation entertain only one crop per year.

Specialised cultivation of flowers, vegetables
and fruits is called horticulture. It is also termed as
“truck farming”. These crops are grown on small
farms which are well connected to the markets by
cheap and efficient means of transportation. It is
labour and capital intensive crops.

Mixed Farming
Mixed farming is defined as a system of
farm which includes crop production, raising
livestock, poultry, fisheries, bee keeping etc. to
sustain and satisfy as many needs of the farmer
as possible.

The major crops of India are divided into
four major categories as follows:

  1. Food crops (wheat, maize, rice, millets,
    pulses etc.).
  2. Cash crops (sugarcane, tobacco, cotton,
    jute, oilseeds etc.).
  3. Plantation crops (tea, coffee and rubber).
  4. Horticulture crops (fruits, flowers and
  5. Food Crops
    Due to its large population, Indian agriculture
    is largely dominated by the food crops.
    Rice is an indigenous crop. India is the
    second largest producer of rice in the world
    after China. It is mainly a tropical crop, growing
    mainly with mean temperatures of 24°C and
    annual rainfall of 150 cm. Deep fertile clayey or
    loamy soils are suited well for rice cultivation.
    It also needs abundant supply of cheap labour.

Rice in India is sown in three ways:
i) Broadcasting,
ii) Ploughing or drilling
iii) Transplanting
Due to increased use of High Yielding
Variety (HYV) seeds (CR Dhan 205, AR Dhan
306, CRR 451 etc.), many of the indigenous
varieties were disappeared. In 2016, the first 10
leading rice producing states are West Bengal
(First in India) Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil
Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh,
Odisha, Assam, and Haryana.

Wheat is the second most important
food crop of the country, after rice. It
accounts for 22 percent of the total area and

34 percent of the total production of food
grains in the country. It requires 10-15°C
at the time of sowing and 20-25°C at the time of
ripening of grains.
Over 85% of the India’s wheat production
comes from 5 states namely Uttar Pradesh,
Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya
Pradesh. Apart from these regions, the black
soil tract of the Deccan covering parts of
Maharashtra and Gujarat also contribute a
major wheat production.

Jowar is the third important food crop of
our country. It is an indigenous plant of Africa.
The plant has a tendency to grow in adverse
climatic conditions. Its grains are rich in
carbohydrates, protein, minerals, and vitamins.
Hence, it provides cheap food to the large
section of the poor population. It is also used
as fodder in many parts of the country. Jowar
is essentially a crop of the Peninsular India.
Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh
are the leading producers of Jowar.
Bajra is an indigenous plant of Africa. This
forms the staple food for poor people. Its stalks

are used as fodder for cattle and for thatching
purposes. Bajra is a crop of dry region. Rajasthan
is the largest producer of bajra followed by Uttar
Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Barley is one of the important cereals of
our country. Besides, being poor man’s diet, it is
used for making barley water, beer and whiskey.
Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are the two leading
producers of Barley.
Pulses include a large number of crops
which are mostly leguminous and rich in
vegetable protein. They are used as human
food and feeding cattle. They fix atmospheric
nitrogen in the soil and hence are usually rotated
with other crops. India is the largest producer of

  1. Cash Crops
    The crops which are cultivated for
    commercial purpose are called cash crops.
    These crops include sugarcane, tobacco, fibre
    crops (cotton, jute, and mesta) and oilseeds.
    It is the second largest producer in the
    world. This crop provides raw material for
    the sugar industry which is the second largest
    industrial category of our country. Besides
    providing sugar, gur and khandsari, it supplies
    molasses for alcohol industry and bagasse for
    paper industry. India is ranked third in sugar
    production in the world after Cuba and Brazil.
    At the state level, Uttar Pradesh is the leading
    producer of sugarcane followed by Maharashtra,
    Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
    Cotton is the most important cash crop
    of India. It provides raw material to the largest
    industry of India. India ranks second next to
    China in the production of cotton.
    About 79% of the total area and production
    in the country were contributed by four states viz.,
    Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.

It is a tropical fibre crops, grows well in the
alluvial soil. It provides raw material for Jute
industry. It is used for manufacturing of gunny
bags, carpets, hessian, ropes and strings, rugs,
clothes, tarpaulins, upholstery etc. West Bengal
is the leading state both in cultivation and
production of jute. The other cultivators of jute
are Bihar, Assam and Meghalaya.

groundnut, rapeseed, mustard, sesame,
linseed, sunflower, castor seed, cotton seed,
niger seed etc. These provide oil and oilcake
which are used for making lubricants, varnish,
medicine, perfume, candles, soaps, manure and
cattle feed. Gujarat is India’s largest oilseeds
producing state. In groundnut production,
India is the second largest producer in the world
after China.

  1. Plantation Crops
    Plantation crops are cultivated for the
    purpose of exports. These are cultivated in large
    estates on hilly slopes. Tea, coffee, rubber and
    spices are the major plantation crops of India.

Tea is an evergreen plant that mainly grows
in tropical and subtropical climates. Tea is a
labour intensive and grows faster under light
shade. Tea plants require high rainfall but its
root cannot tolerate water logging. Two major
varieties of tea are cultivated in India. They are
i) BOHEA – originated from China
ii) ASSAMICA – from India
A number of hybrid varieties have been
developed by mixing these two. India is the
second largest producer of tea after China in
the world. Assam is the larger producer of tea in
India. Other states are Tamil Nadu, Kerala and
West Bengal.
Coffee is grown in shade and it grows
effectively in the altitudes between 1,000 and
1,500 m above mean sea level. There are two
main varieties of coffee. They are
i) Arabica (High quality-cultivated more
in India)
ii) Robusta (Inferior quality).
India is the 7th largest producer of coffee
globally. Karnataka is the leading producer of
coffee in India. It produces 71% in India, and
2.5 % in the world (source; coffee board of
Rubber plantation were first established in
Kerala in 1902. It needs hot and wet climatic
conditions (temperature above 20°C and
rainfall above 300cm). Most of the land under
rubber belongs to small land holders. The major
rubber growing areas are Tamil Nadu, Kerala,
Karnataka and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
India has been world famous for its spices
since ancient times. These spices mostly used
for flavouring or tampering cooked food and for
preparing medicines, dyes etc. Pepper, chillies,
turmeric, ginger, cardamom, clove and areca

nut are the major spices cultivated in India.
Kerala is the leading producer of spices in India.

  1. Horticulture Crops
    It refers to the cultivation of fruits, flowers
    and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are
    important supplement to the human diet, as
    they provide essential minerals, vitamins, and
    fibres required for maintaining health. India
    is in the second position in the production of
    fruits and vegetables.
    3.5 Livestock

Livestock is an integral component of the
farming system in India. The livestock sector
is socially and economically very significant
due to its multi-functional outputs and
contribution to socio-cultural security. It also
helps to improve food and nutritional security
by providing nutrient-rich food products,
generate income and employment and act
as a cushion against crop failure, provide
draught power and manure inputs to the crop
Cattle constitute 37.3 percent of livestock
population in India. India has second largest
cattle population after Brazil at World level.
Cattle population in India belongs to different
breeds. These include:
1) Milch Breed
2) Draught breed
3) Mixed or General breed.
The goat is the poor man’s cow providing
milk, meat, skin and hair. It is the main source
of meat for the country.
Buffaloes are an important source of
milk supply for India. Uttar Pradesh has the
highest number of buffaloes (28.2%) followed
by Rajasthan (9.6%) and Andhra Pradesh

Dairy, Meat and Wool Production
According to 2016-17 Census held by State
/UT Animal Husbandry Department, Uttar
Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
While looking at the meat, Uttar Pradesh
is the leading producer following Maharashtra
and West Bengal.
The leading state in the wool production is
Rajasthan followed by Karnataka

Fisheries in India are a very important
economic activity and a flourishing sector
with varied resources and potentials. Fishing
in India is a major industry in its coastal
states, employing over 14 million people.
It produces about 3 percent of World’s fish
and occupies second place among the fish
producing nations of the world after China.
It also helps in augmenting food supply,
generating employment, raising nutritional
level and earning valuable foreign exchange.
In India, fishing is categorised into two types:
They are

  1. Marine or Sea Fisheries
  2. Inland or Fresh Water Fisheries

Marine or Sea Fisheries: It includes coastal,
off-shore and deep sea fisheries mainly on
the continental shelves. Kerala leads in the
marine fish production in India.

  1. Inland or Fresh Water Fisheries: Rivers,
    lakes, canals, reservoirs, ponds, tanks etc.
    are the sources of fresh water fresh water
    fisheries. About 50 percent of the country’s
    total fish production comes from the inland
    fisheries and Andhra Pradesh is the leading
    producer in India.
    In India, the important varieties of fishes
    caught by the fisherman are Cat fish, Herrings,
    Mackerels, Perches, Eels, Mullets etc.

Major issues faced by
farmers in india
Small and fragmented land-holdings
The problem of small and fragmented
holdings is more serious in densely populated
and intensively cultivated states in India.
High Costs of Inputs
Good quality seeds are out of reach for
many small and marginal farmers due to their
high price.
Infertile Soil
Indian soils have been used for growing crops
over thousands of years without caring much
for replenishing. This has led to depletion and
exhaustion of soils resulting in low productivity.
Lack of Irrigation
Only one-third of the cropped area falls
under irrigated area. To make agriculture
reliable, irrigation facility has to be developed.

Lack of mechanization
In spite of the large scale mechanization of
agriculture in some parts of the country, most
of the agricultural operations in larger parts are
carried on by human hand using simple and
conventional tools.
Soil erosion
Large tracts of fertile land suffer from soil
erosion by wind and water.
Agricultural marketing
Due to the absence of sound marketing
facility, the farmers have to depend on local
traders and middlemen for the disposal of
their farm products which is sold at low price.
Besides, there is a fluctuation in the prices of
agriculture products.
Inadequate storage facilities
Storage facilities in the rural areas are either
totally absent or grossly inadequate. Under such
conditions the farmers are compelled to sell
their products immediately after the harvest
irrespective of the condition of market.
Inadequate transport
One of the main handicaps with Indian
agriculture is the lack of cheap and efficient
means of transportation.
Scarcity of capital
Agriculture is an important industry which
requires a huge capital. The role of capital plays
a major role in the purchase of advanced farm
machineries and equipments.


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