Agriculture In India


Agriculture = man’s management of the environment to produce food. 
•Agriculture – practised since ages. 
•Net sown area still accounts for about 47% of total cultivable area of India. 
•Nearly 2/3rd of Indian population depends on agriculture, directly or indirectly.
•Inspite of industrial development in India, agriculture is still backbone of our country. 
•Not only provides food and fodder to human beings and livestock – also source of raw materials for many industries – sugar, textile, edible oil.
•India’s undulating topography, varied climate with sufficient sunshine, ideal temperature and two main growing seasons provide conditions necessary for agricuture .

Agriculture – backbone of our economy

India is an agricultural economy where 58% of the people depend on agriculture. 
•Net sown area still accounts for about 47% of the total cultivable area of India. 
•It accounts for about 35% of our national income. 
•It provides food for the people and fodder for the animals. 
•Agriculture is the main source of raw materials to the agro-based industries.- sugar, textile, edible oil, etc 
•Agriculture provides market for many of the finished products. 
•Foreign exchange is earned through exports of agriculture-based produce. 
•Agriculture, being less capital-intensive, is of great importance as there is less capital for investment in India. 
•It helps in better distribution of income and wealth.

Conditions necessary for agriculture- 
India – prominent country from agricultural point of view. 
•Its undulating topography 
• varied climate with sufficient sunshine 
• ideal temperature 
•Two main growing seasons 
•Improvements in agricultural techniques increases the demand for 
•tractors , 
•chemical fertilizers, 
•pesticides, etc 
•Industries then are set up to meet the demands. 
•Agriculture not only supplies raw materials to the industry, it also acts as a consumer of many industrial products. 
•Provides employment to millions of people 
•Many agricultural products are exported and export of tea, tobacco, coffee, jute and cotton bring in much needed foreign exchange.


1. Dependence on monsoons: 
always dependent on monsoons 
- monsoons are unreliable- uncertain and irregular 
- large scale irrigation serves only one third of crop area 
- remaining has to suffer the vagaries of monsoon.
2. Variety of crops 
India’s vast relief, varying climate and soil conditions produce a variety of crops. 
•Both tropical, subtropical and temperate crops like wheat, barley are grown.
3. Preponderance of Food crops 
Has to feed large population 
•So preponderance of food crops over other crops in most important feature 
•More than 2/3rd of total cropped area is food crops
4. Seasonal Pattern 
•India – 3 main crop seasons which are most influenced by the changing season. 
A.KHARIF SEASON: ground is prepared in April – May and the seeds are sown in June on arrival of rain. 
Harvest – beginning of November 
major crops of this season – rice, maize, jowar, bajra, cotton, sesame, groundnut, pulses, jute 
B. RABI SEASON: ground is prepared by end of October or beginning of November 
harvesting – in March 
Major crops – wheat, barley, jowar, gram, oil seeds, tobacco 
C. ZAID SEASON: it is summer cropping season – crops sown at the beginning of the hot season in February and March and are harvested in the months of April and May 
crops – rice, maize,watermelons, groundnut, vegetables and fruits

Causes for backwardness of Indian Agriculture

•Our farmers still follow old methods of cultivation. 
•Illiteracy and conservatism have come in the way of adopting scientific methods of cultivation. 
•In many parts of the country farmers are still tenants and have no security of tenancy. 
•Uneconomical holdings are a result of our laws of inher
itance, but they adversely effect agriculture. 
• Rural indebtedness and non-availability of capital also act as hindrances. 
•Defective marketing and low prices have affected farming. 
•Over-dependence on monsoons 
•Overdependence of monsoon rainfall- erratic rainfall
•Floods and droughts 
•Soil erosion 
•Small and fragmented land holding: common feature
intensive farming, increasing population, practice of dividing and subdividing land for inheritance – irrigation, wastage of labour, wastage of raised boundaries 
•Poor quality of seeds – poor productivity 
•Lack of proper use of manure and Fertilizer 
•Reluctant to use modern scientific methods of cultivation 
•Most farmers do not own the land- belongs to absentee landlords who are indifferent to land improvements 
•Pests and diseases – no protection – farmers should be educated 
•Traditional upbringing – most farmers do not believe in change – stick to old method of farming – very little improvement 
•Excessive pressure on land 
•Low yield – average yield of crops is lower than other countries 
•Unsound credit system and poverty of the farmers.



  • depend on rain – so backward.

  • Different measures to overcome this. 

  • Different types of irrigation-wells, tanks, canals are built and developed. 

  • After Independence, government taken these steps.

  • has advanced loans to our farmers to improve irrigation facilities. 

Multi-purpose river valley projects 
* during Five-Year Plans, many multi-purpose river valley projects were constructed to benefit agriculture. 




Desilting of tanks is being carried out regularly. 


2.Consolidation of Holdings 

•To overcome sub-division & fragmentation of holdings is being adopted. 
•Either by exchange or purchase of lands, by the side of one of the existing holdings, a large area is created. 
•Thereafter farmers get medium term & long term loans from Land Devp Bank or Apex banks for permanent land devp.

3. Soil conservation

Top layer is eroded due to: 
•Indian Soil conservation Board is set up. 
•Contour ploughing, afforestation, construction of bunds,crop rotation are taken 
•Use of right type of fertilizers for different soils 
•Soil testing centres are opened to test soil and suggest right type of soil for various crops. 

Modernisation of Agriculture 

•Abolition of Zamindari & landlordism – ceiling of landholdigsis fixed. 
•Consolidation of holdings is undertaken. 
•Govt offers support price for some agricultural products. Govt is prepared to buy the agricultural products at the price fixed by it. 
Contour ploughing is adopted. 
•Ploughing of the land is carried on across the slopes. 
•Proper bunds are constructed. 
•Thus soil is conserved and wastage of water is prevented. 

Dry land farming techniques are adopted & crops are grown through drip irrigation. 

Use of machinery & implements-proper training is given to use them-

Started centres to carry out mechanization of agriculture. 
Training on – right use of irrigation, machines, irrigation, hybrid seeds, modern techniques. 
Suratgarh in Rajashthan – state mechanized farm 
Agricultural universities also give training. 
Intensive farming – to maximise production-package programme-all facilities are given-irrigation, hybrid seeds, soil conservation, right type of fertilizer, use of pesticides,etc are provided. 

To encourage farmers to grow more, govt offers support price for some agricultural products. Govt is prepared to buy agricultural products at the price fixed by it. 

Sprinkler & drip irrigation facilities are developed. Under drip irrigation, water is allowed to flow through pipes which have small holes & they are laid above the plants & water is provided drop by drop. – saves water, retains fertility of soil. 
•Sprinklers are used in coffee and tea plantations. 
•Same advantage as drip irrigation.

Agricultural methods determine the progress of agriculture. 
•Must use scientific methods. 
•Application of science & technology in agriculture is called Scientific farming. 
It includes: 
•Soil conservation 
•Use of chemical fertilizers 
•Use of pesticides for plant protection 
•Use of high yielding variety of seeds 
•Mechanization of agriculture 
•Adoption of sprinklers & drip irrigation 
•Every state has Agricultural University- produce more and more graduates 
•National Seed Corporation- to produce & distribute improved seeds. 
•Farmers are enlightened regarding the use chemical fertilizers, production of chemical fertilizers has increased. 
•Use of farm machinery- tractors, tillers, harvesters 
•Minor, medium and major irrigation works devpd 

GREEN REVOLUTION – during Fourth Five Year Plan period 
•Means to quick up trend change in agricultural production. 
•Able to export some of the food grains to other countries. 
•Under the INTENSIVE AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (IADP), several measures were adopted 
•AIMED at transforming the agriculture sector and increase the food crop production to meet the increasing demand 
•Effort began in 1960 
•Introduced in 1967-68 
•Sponsored by INDIAN COUNCIL OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH (ICAR) and an eminent agricultural agronomist, NORMAN BORLAUG

1.Use of high yielding varieties (HYV) of seeds 
3.Use of insecticides, pesticides 
4.Consolidation of holdings 
5.Land reforms 
6.Rural electrification 
7.Improved rural infrastructure 
8.Supply of agricultural credit 
9.Use of (chemicals) fertilizers 
10.Opening of agricultural universities 
•Led to remarkable increase in productivity 
•Made India self-sufficient in food production 
•By 94-95 food production of food grains increased 4 times 
•Most remarkable in Punjab, Haryana, U.P.
Many problems regarding land holdings •Many steps are taken to overcome them. They are called land reforms. Important reforms are: 

•ABOLITION OF ZAMINDARI SYSTEM:Before independence, 40% of the land was under Zamindars and it was a hindrance to our country’s progress. Farmers had no right on the lands they cultivated. This was affecting agriculture adversely. To correct this and to make tillers the owners of the land, Zamindari system was abolished.
Tenants of land holdings faced 3 types of problems. 
1.High rent of the tenancy lands 
2.Lack of security and time the owner could ask the tenant to vacate the tenancy 
3.The tenant could not become the owner of the land which he was cultivating. 
-Agriculture was backward. – many tenants lost their tenancy became landless labourers. 
-After independence laws were passed to confirm ownership to the tiller under ‘TILLER IS THE OWNER OF THE LAND’.
Ceiling on land holdings:- 
Under the Zamindari system one could own any amount of land. This had created inequality and hardship to the farmers. To overcome this and achieve a fair distribution of land, maximum area of land , which a farmer can own is fixed. It has resulted in fair distribution of land among the farmers & many have become the owners of the land. 
• The maximum limits on land holdings in Karnataka are :- 
•fully irrigated land 4 to 8 hectares 
•partly irrigated land 8 to 12 hectares 
•dry land 21.85 hectares
Creation of economic holdings 
An economic holding is one which allows the farmer a chance of earning sufficient income to support himself and his family in reasonable comfort after paying necessary cultivation expenses.
Progress of co-operative farming:- 
•The farmers form co-operative societies for the purpose of cultivation. 
•All the land is brought together & management is vested in the co-operative society. 
•All the farmers work in the farm for which they get their wages 
•At the end, after setting a portion of profit for permanent land improvement, the proceeds are shared among the farmers. 
•Punjab has made progress in this regard.
Agricultural Labour & its welfare 
•Agricultural labour = workers who work in farms for wages of small cultivators who own very small holdings and work in the fields of other people. 
•Their problems are: 
•Low wages 
•Bonded labourers 
•Engaged in agricultural work only for a few months 
•Weak and illiterate 
•Not specialised or not skilled in any one particular work.
Some of the measures taken to improve the living conditions of the agricultural labourers are: 
•Abolition of bonded labour 
•Fixation of minimum wages 
•Creation of employment opportunities during non-agricultural seasons 
•distribution of free houses and house sites 
•distribution of surplus land acquired through land reforms 
•Starting industries in rural areas 
•loans at low rate of interests, etc


•INDIA – vast country – various climatic patterns and geographical conditions 
•So different types of farming 
a. Intensive subsistence farming 
b. Primitive subsistence farming 
a. Extensive commercial farming 
b. Plantation farming 
c. Mixed farming


•FARMERS producing exclusively for his own consumption. 
•There is no surplus left for sale 
•In India, agriculture is still of the subsistence type. 
•This involves cultivations of food crops like rice, wheat, and pulses. 
•As farmer and his family consume the entire farm produce, there is no surplus production to sell in the market. 
•Main features: 
a.Land holdings are small and scattered 
b.Farmers use traditional methods of agriculture 
c.Output is not very high and it is consumed within the family 
d.There is never surplus for the market 
•Practised chiefly in overpopulated ‘land-hungry regions of South Asia especially India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Myanmar 
•This type practised in the irrigated areas of the plains of the northern India and the coastal areas of South India 
•Very small size holdings due to laws of inheritance and population pressure 
•Farming done intensively to get maximum yield 
•More than one crop is cultivated -Double cropping, crop rotation and multiple cropping are practised 
• labour intensive -Human and animal labour 
•To increase the output, rich manure and fertilizers, good quality seeds and irrigation facilities are used. 
•Agriculture is dominated by wet paddy cultivation though wheat, millets, pulses, jute, sugarcane, oilseeds and cotton are also grown 

•Called Jhumming or Shifting agriculture – takes place in forest areas where
 in some parts, trees are cut and burnt and agriculture is carried on. 
•After growing and reaping the crops for a few years, the land loses its fertility and farmer shifts agriculture to some other place.
•Shifting cultivation results in soil erosion & gives low yield. 
•SLASH & BURN AGRICULTURE: involves burning the area to clear off the forest and finally unburnt trees are hacked out or left to decay naturally 
•Practised in the bacward areas by tribal people who ha
ve no knowledge of scientific or environment ways of farming. 
•Primitive tools are used 
•Few crops like cassava, manioc, yarns, tapioca, millets, upland rice and bananas are grown 
•Crops are left to grow on their own and no irrigation or fertilisation is provi
•Not environmentally friendly method due to deforestation and burning increases the level of greenhouse gases
Shifting cultivation ( jhum) is traditional among the hill peoples of Arunachal Pradesh; rice, corn (maize), millet, and buckwheat are among the chief crops grown by this method. Millet and rice beer are popular, as is tea. Some tribes supplement their diet by hunting, fishing, and gathering forest ... 

•Is a system of agriculture in which food crops are pro
duced specifically for sale in the market, by using improved variety of seeds and machinery. 
•Normally it is characterised by large farms and only one 
crop is grown 
•The nature of land, soil, irrigation facilities and climate are suitable for that crop. 
•Machinery, chemical fertilizers, hybrid seeds and pesticides are used 
•Important crops grown under commercial farming in India are cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, chillies, oil seeds, etc 
•This kind of farming may be INTENSIVE OR EXTENSIVE

•SIZE OF HOLDINGS are small due to fragmentation 
•MAXIMUM YIELD is produced with the help of irrigation, fertilizers, scientific farming and use of hybrid seeds, e.g. Punjab, Haryana 
•MAXIMUM CAPITAL, labour and skill is involved for making a small area productive. 
•Food crops predominate though cash crops like cotton, sugarcane and tobacco are also included 
•Is practised in countries where the population pressure reduces the size of the landholdings 
•Practised mainly in the river valleys and deltas 
•Main features: 
a.Small farms are intensively used 
b.More than one crop is cultivated on the same field 
c.To increase the output, rich manure and fetilizers, good quality of seeds and irrigation facilities are used 
d.Labour intensive system
•Practised mainly in sparsely populated areas – land is available for cultivation 
•Single crop cultivation predominates, like wheat, corn or barley 
•Yield per acre is much less than yield per man as pressure of population on land is less 
•This type of farming is more akin to temperate lands like prairies and steppes and not South Asia 
•Products are raised for the sole purpose of sale in the market. (domestic or international) 
•Mechanisation in farming is a unique feature with the absence of human and animal labour 
•Capital intensive 
•Crops grown – sugarcane, rice, wheat 
•Main features: 
a.Farms are huge in size 
b.Machines are used 
c.Farmer specializes in one or two major commercial crops 
d.Capital intensive 
e.Crop yield is high, with large surpluses for sale 

•Is raising of crops and rearing of cattle, poultry, bee keeping, sericulture, etc on the same land. 
•Cattle or poultry do not need extra expenditure as they thrive on the farm w
•Livestock animals provide substitute income when crops are not ready 
•Practised in densely populated areas 
•This type of farming is practised very widely in India. 
•Main characteristics of this farming are: 
a)Different variety of crops are grown-two or three crops are grown together 
b)Scientific methods of agriculture are followed- modern machinery, good seeds, fertilisers are used to increase the yield 
c)Sufficient capital is required 
d)Crops and animals are raised simultaneously 
e)Rotation of crops is practised 
f)Ensures steady income to the farmers.

•Predominance of a single crop farming in tropical regions is called plantation farming. (single cash crops) 
•Located in a tropical or sub-tropical environment 
•Important crops grown under this type of farming are coffee, tea,
 rubber, spices, coconuts, arecanuts, beetle leaves, etc 
•Consists of large estates for farming about 100 accres each, though small holdings are also common in Kerala and Srilanka 
•Estates are scientifically managed. Crop cultivation, harvesting, processing in factories to be ready for market is done in the same farm 
•Crops are raised only for sale 
•Introduced by British in the 19th century 
•Involves large number of labourers 
•Requires huge capital outlay 
•One crop is cultivated using modern scientific methods 
•Chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides are used extensively 
•Latest knowledge and modern methods of agriculture are used
It refers to agricultural practice in which only one crop is grown in the whole plantation period. 
•Eg. Tea, rubber plantations 


•Practised in areas where facilities for irrigation are lacking and crops grown can withstand dry conditions. 
•Fields are repeatedly ploughed before and during the rains to preserve soil moisture 
•Practise regular weeding along with the construction of dykes and wells around fields 
•Cultivation is sown only once during a year 
•Practised in Western Rajasthan and in some parts of the Deccan 
•Grow short-maturing and drought resistant crops like pulses, millets (including jowar, bajra, and ragi) 
•The production also earns foreign exchange 
•Provides all the facilities for labourers, and workers by way of providing accomodation, schools, buses, hospitals, market places, and other amentities 
•Practised in Assam, W. Bengal, Tamilnadu, Kerala 
•Vegetables, fruits, flowers are also grown on large scale under this type of farming. 
•In short, large capital, vast extensive estates, managerial ability, technical know-how, sophisticated farm machinery, fertilizers, good transport facilities, etc are the main features
subsistence agriculture farmers grow crops just to maintain their family. 
Jhumming, carried out in hilly regions of North-East India, is a type of shifting agriculture. 
Mixed farming includes some other subsidiary occupation as poultry farming, cattle rearing etc 
4.Plantation farming involves large number of 
labourers like managerial labour, daily wage labourers. 
1.What is meant by the term ‘agriculture’? 
The use of land in order to grow crops and rear livestock is called agriculture. 
2. How does shifting cultivation create problems? 
Shifting cultivation is done by the ‘Slash-and-burn’ method which leads to the destruction of valuable forests and affects the eco-system severely. 
3. What is meant by monoculture? 
The type of agriculture in which only one crop is gown in the whole plantation period is known as monoculture. Examples: rubber and tea plantation 
4. What is meant by ‘subsistence agriculture’? 
The type of agriculture in which the farmer grows a variety of crops only to maintain his family. 
5. How has become agriculture a consumer of industrial products? 
Use of modern technology in the agriculture, it has been created the demand for industrial products such as tractors, threshers, pesticides, fertilizers, etc. That is why agriculture is gradually becoming a considerable consumer of various industrial products. 
6. What is known as the zaid season?The season in which the farmers grow an extra crop such as seasonal fruits and vegetables is known as the Zaid season. These are the months of April, May and June respectively

QUESTION: In the context of agriculture in India, answer the following questions: 
a)How do the monsoons affect cultivation in India? 
b)What solutions are offered against irregular monsoons as far as farming is concerned? 
Ans. A)A major part of the cultivated lands in India is still dependent on monsoon rains which are uncertain , irregular, and unevenly distributed. Sometimes crops get destroyed due to scanty rainfall and sometimes floods caused due to heavy rainfall bring destruction to the crops. 
b) Different solutions are offered against irregular monsoons which are as follows: 
* Irrigation facilities are provided in many areas by constructing canals. 
* Several dams have been constructed to check floods. 
* Recently, the Government of India is planning to interconnect the rivers of India in order to divert the water of flooded river to the water starved river.

QUESTION: What is the importance of agriculture in India? Or Why is agriculture said to be the backbone of the Indian economy? 
India is basically an agricultural country. Majority of its people are dependent on agriculture. India’s rural economy is still based on agriculture and agro-based industries. Agro-based industries include cotton textiles, tobacco, jute, sugar, etc. 
India earn a substantial foreign exchange by the export of agricultural commodities like cotton, tea, cashewnuts, spices, oilseeds, etc to the industrialised country.

QUESTION: Where is shifting cultivation is practised in India? 
•In India shifting cultivation is practised in some hilly regions of North-east India and in the Himalayan region. These regions include hilly slopes in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

QUESTION: Mention problems faced by the farmers on account of small land holdings. Or What is farm fragmentation? How does it affect agriculture? 
•Owing to small land holdings the farmers face following problems: 
i.Farmers are not interested in improving the land, to make it more fertile. 
ii.They are not willing to use new method of new technology in such a small land. 
iii.Being small and marginal farmers, they are not in position to use expansive high yielding seeds and agricultural machines on their small holdings.

QUESTION: What are rabi and kharif crops? Give example. 
•Rabi crops are sown at the beginning of the winter seasons, i.e. in October-November and harvested between February and May. 
•On the other hand Kharif crops are sown at the beginning of the monsoon rains, i.e. June-July and harvested after the monsoon season, i.e., in October-November. 

QUESTION: What is meant by ‘transplantation’? State its advantages? 
•The process in which plants are allowed to grow for a few weeks, then they are uprooted by hand and again planted in another field, is called ‘transplantation’. 
•By the method of transplantation, the yield is increased by 45%. Also, water is used economically.

QUESTION: Distinguish between Humid Farming and Irrigated Farming. HUMID FARMING 
Humid farming is practised in the areas with sufficient rainfall. 
Irrigated farming is done in the areas with scanty rainfall. 
Crops are cultivated without the help of irrigation. 
Crops are cultivated with the help of irrigation.

Jaydeep Mehta,
21 Sep 2010, 02:49