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Indian Agriculture

India is a vast country endowed with a great variety of natural environments and thus provide conditions for a large number of crops to be grown in various parts.

Crops are grown in the country are grouped into several categories based on the growing season, role of a particular crop in the rural economy and some other considerations.


Salient Features of Indian Agriculture

Features of Indian agriculture are

  • The Predominance of subsistence agriculture.
  • Lower per capita availability of arable land, also decreasing continuously due to huge population pressure and uneven distribution of arable land.
  • Lack of modernization and the ubiquitous use of animal force and labor-intensive in nature.
  • Dependent on erratic natured monsoon.
  • A variety of crops are grown suit to uneven physiography.
  • The predominance of food crops to feed a large population.
  • Fodder crops are given a very insignificant place in Indian cropping pattern, even though India has the largest livestock population in the world.
  • Three well-defined cropping seasons i.e., Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid.
  • Indian agriculture also lacks a definite agriculture land use policy at national or regional levels.
  • In India agriculture is the profession of less-educated rural mass so draws hardly any honor or enthusiasm.
  • Limited intensive agriculture and low productivity.

Types of Farming

Various geographical, physical and socio-economic factors are responsible for giving birth to different types of farming in different parts of the country.

Subsistence Farming

Farmers cultivate small and scattered holdings with the help of draught animals and family members.

The tools and techniques used are primitive and simple and the main focus is on food crops. The farmers and his family members consume the entire farm production.

Plantation Farming

It involves growing and processing of a single cash crop purely meant for sale. It is capital intensive and the other necessary thing needed are vast estate, managerial ability, technical knowledge, fertilizer, good transport, processing factory, etc. This type of agriculture is mainly practiced in Assam, sub- Himalayan West Bengal, and in Nilgiri, Anaimalai, and Cardamom Hills in the south.

Shifting Agriculture

It is practiced by the tribals in the forest areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.

In this type of Agriculture, a piece of forest land is cleared mainly by tribal people by felling and burning of trees and crops are grown.

Dry paddy, buckwheat, maize, small millets, tobacco, and sugarcane are the main crops grown under this type of agriculture. This is a very primitive method of cultivation which results in large scale deforestation and soil erosion especially on the foot hillsides.

Names of Shifting Cultivation in the Various States


Name of Shifting Cultivation





Andhra Pradesh & Odisha


Madhya Pradesh

Beewar, Mashan, Penda, and Beera


Cropping Seasons

Three types of cropping seasons are found in India

·        Kharif: It requires much water, long hot weather for their growth, grown in June with the arrival of South-East monsoon e.g., rice, jowar, maize, cotton, groundnut, jute, tobacco, bajra, sugarcane, pulses, etc.

·        Rabi: Grown in winter, required cool climate during growth and warm climate during germination of seeds and maturation. Sowing is done in November and harvested in April-May e.g., wheat, gram, and oilseeds like mustard and rapeseed, etc.

·         Zaid: A brief cropping season practiced in irrigated areas. Sown in February-March, harvested in June e.g., urad, moong, melons, watermelons.

Major Crops

With the varied type of climate relief, soil and with plenty of sunshine and a long growing season, India is capable of growing almost each and every crop. Crops requiring tropical, sub-tropical and temperate climate can easily be grown in one or the other part of India.

Indian crops are divided into the following categories :

1. Food Crops: Rice, wheat, maize, millets, bajra, ragi, pulses, gram and tur.

2. Cash Crops: Cotton, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, oilseeds, groundnut, linseed, sesamum, castorseed, rapseed and mustard.

3. Plantation Crops: Tea, coffee, spices, cardamom, chilies, ginger, turmeric, coconut, and rubber.

4. Horticulture Fruits: Apple, peach, pear, apricot, almond, strawberry, mango, banana, citrus food, and vegetables.

Major Crops in India


Temperature (0oC)

Rainfall (Cm)



Cash Crops




Black Soil

Gujrat, Maharashtra, Punjab




Sandy or Clayed Loams, Deep Rich

West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Assam




Loamy Soil

U.P, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu




Friable Sandy Soil

U.P, Andhra Pradesh, Gujrat, Karnataka

Food Crops




Clayed and Loamy Soil

West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, U.P, Punjab




Light, Sandy, Clayed Loamy Soil

U.P, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan




Black Clayed Loamy Soil

Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh




Loamy Soil

Rajasthan, U.P, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujrat

Plantation Crops




Loamy Forest Soil

Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam




Friable Forest Loamy Soil

Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu




Loamy Soil

Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu


Factors Responsible for Crop Distribution

The agricultural practices, cropping pattern, and their productivity are closely determined by the geo-climatic, socio-economic, and cultural-political factors.

In fact, the agriculture of any region is influenced by the following factors

1. Physical Factors: It includes the terrain, topography, climate, and soil.

2. Infrastructural Factors: It includes irrigation, seeds, fertilizers, and power availability.

3. Institutional Factors: It includes land tenure, size of holdings, credit facilities, information dissemination regarding agriculture.

4. Technological Factors: It includes various technological developments such as High Yielding Varieties, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, and farm machinery. Major Crops and their Areas of Distribution.

Various Revolutions in Agriculture



Green Revolution

Agriculture (Food Production)

Yellow Revolution

Oil Seeds Production (Edible Oil)

White Revolution


Blue Revolution


Pink Revolution


Brown Revolution


Red Revolution


Golden Revolution


Grey Revolution


Silver Revolution


Golden Fiber


Silver Fiber



Green Revolution

It is the phrase generally used to describe the spectacular increase that took place during 1968 and is continuing in the production of foodgrains in India. Dr. Norman Borlaug is the father of Green Revolution and MS Swaminathan introduced it in India.

12 Components of Green Revolution

High Yield Varieties (Seeds), Irrigation, Use of Fertilizers, Use of Insecticide and Pesticide, Command Area Development, Consolidation of Holding, Land Reform, Supply of Agricultural Credit, Rural Electrification, Rural Roads and Marketing, Farm Mechanisation, Agricultural Universities.

Call for Evergreen Revolution

The pioneer of the Indian Green Revolution Mr. MS Swaminathan gave a new call for Evergreen Revolution for doubling the present production level of foodgrains from 210 million tonnes to 420 million tonnes. For making Evergreen Revolution a success, he stressed on adopting best scientific techniques and promoting organic farming.

He also mentioned four pre-requisites for getting the success

·        Promoting soil health.

·        Promoting lab to land exhibitions.

·        Making rainwater harvesting compulsion.

·         Providing credit of farmers on suitable conditions.


Impact of Green Revolution

Positive Impact: Increases in agricultural production, reduction of the import of foodgrains, capitalistic farming, industrial growth, and rural employment.

Negative Impact: Inter-crop imbalance, increase in regional imbalance, unemployment due to mechanization, Increase in inter-regional migration, ecological problems, and social conflict between large and small farmers.

Problems of Indian Agriculture

Indian Agriculture is facing various natural and man-made problems.

1. Un-economic size of land holdings and fragmentation.

2. Inadequate availability of good quality seed and scarcity of other agricultural inputs.

3. Poverty and indebtedness of farmers inhibit mechanization.

4. Lack of infrastructural facilities like irrigation, transportation, storage facility and organized marketing structure.

5. Increasing trend of soil erosion and soil degradation tend to lower productivity.

6. Inadequate government support and lack of marketing and storage facility.

New Initiatives in Agriculture Sector

Crop Diversification

The original Green Revolution State faces the problem of stagnating yield and over-exploitation of water resources. Hence a sum of 500 crores has been provided by Union Government to start a program of crop diversification that would promote technological innovation and encourage farmers to choose crop alternatives.

Minimum Support Price Scheme

The Minimum Support Price The scheme is a scheme of the Government of India (GOI) to safeguard the interests of the farmers. Under this scheme the GOI declares the minimum support price of various agricultural produces for the Agricultural year (July-June) every year and assures the farmers that their agricultural produce will be purchased at the MSP, thereby preventing its distress sale. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) acts as the Nodal Agency of the GOI. Currently, 25 crops are covered under this scheme.

The government decides MSP after considering the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, views of the State Government, views of ministers, and other relevant factors.

The department of agriculture and cooperation implements the Price Support Scheme for oilseeds and pulses through the NAFED. When the price of oil seeds, pulses and cotton fall below MSP, NAFED purchases these from farmers.

Pilot Program on Nutri- Farms

A Pilot Programme on Nutri-Farms for introducing new crop varieties that are rich in micro-nutrients such as iron-rich bajra, protein-rich maize, and zinc-rich wheat, is being launched with a sum of Rs 200 crore.

It is hoped that agri businesses and farmers will come together to start a sufficient number of pilots in the districts, most affected by malnutrition.

New National Agriculture Policy 2004

The Government of India announced its new agriculture policy in July 2004. This policy has been formulated taking into consideration the provisions of the WTO with an objective to achieve 4% agricultural growth targets so that it could provide food for 100 crore population, the adequate raw material to its growing industrial base and sufficient surplus for export.

Here promises have been made for the green revolution, white revolution, and blue revolution cumulatively as 'rainbow revolution'.

Promotion of Secondary Agriculture

In 2010 Planning Commission A panel headed by K Kasturirangan has recommended an ambitious action plan to boost secondary agriculture which includes value addition to farm products in the 12th plan period. Now only 7% of the farm products get value addition.

Secondary agriculture encompasses activities such as extracting medicines from herbs, vitamins from foodgrains, fiberboards from rice straw, oil from rice bran, etc. The potential of secondary agriculture is at Rs 100000 crore and need to be promoted

Kisan SMS Portal

President of India launched an Sms Portal for Farmers in July 2013 created by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Indian Council of Agriculture Research, Indian Meteorological Department and Foodgrain Procurement Agencies.

The portal will be used for disseminating relevant information, giving topical and seasonal advisories and providing services through SMSs to farmers in the language of the state.    


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