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Significance of Indian Agriculture

  • India is agriculturally very important country.
  • More than 2/3 of Indian Population depends on agriculture.
  • It not only produces food grains but also supplies raw material for Agro-based industries.
  • The export of agricultural products brings us Foreign Exchange.
Types of Agriculture:

  • Agriculture is the oldest human occupation.
  • The farming types have changed over the years due to physical environment, technological advancement and cultural practices.
  • Based on these, Indian agricultural practice can be classified into the following categories.

Primitive Subsistence Farming

  • It is a ‘slash and burn’ agriculture.
  • Farmers clear a patch of forest and burn the trees. They believe ash increases fertility of the soil.
  • Once the soil loses its fertility, the farmers shift to a different patch of forest.
  • They use primitive tools like hoe, dao and digging sticks.
  • This type of farming depends upon monsoon and natural fertility of the soil.
  • The entire family and the community is involved in cultivation of crops.
  • land productivity in this type of agriculture is low as the farmer does not use fertilisers or other modern inputs.
  • It is known by different names in different parts of the country.
  • It is jhumming in north-eastern states like Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland; Pamlou in Manipur Dipa in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, and in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 landIntensive Subsistence Farming

  • It is practiced in the areas of high population density.
  • The Law of Inheritance entitles everybody equal share in the ancestral property.
  • The size of the land holding is decreasing generation after generation.
  • The farmers provide all possible inputs to get maximum yield from these small land holdings.
  • High doses of biochemical inputs and irrigation are used for obtaining higher production.
  • It is labour intensive in nature.
  • The farmers continue to take maximum output from the limited land in the absence of alternative source of livelihood.
  • Thus, there is enormous pressure on agricultural land.

 Commercial Farming

  • The main characteristic of this type of farming is the use of higher doses of modern inputs, eg. high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides to obtain higher productivity.
  • The degree of commercialisation of agriculture varies from one region to another. For example, rice is a commercial crop in Haryana and Punjab, but in Orissa, it is a subsistence.
  • Plantation is also a type of commercial farming.
  • In this type of farming, a single crop is grown on a large area.
  • The plantation has an interface of agriculture and industry.
  • Plantations cover large tracts of land, using capital intensive inputs, with the help of migrant labourers.
  • In India, tea, coffee, rubber, sugarcane, banana, are important plantation crops.
  • Tea in Assam and North Bengal coffee in Karnataka are some of the important plantation crops grown in these states.
  • Since the production is mainly for market, a well- developed network of transport and communication is required.

Cropping Patterns


Rabi Season

  • Rabi crops are sown in winter from October to December and harvested in summer from April to June.
  • Some of the important rabi crops are wheat, barley, peas, gram and mustard. The most important one is Wheat.
  • Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are important for the production of wheat and other rabi crops.
  • Availability of precipitation during winter months due to the western temperate cyclones (Mahawat) helps in the success of these rabi crops.
  • The success of the green revolution in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan has also been an important factor in the growth of the above- mentioned rabi crops.

Kharif Season

  • Kharif crops are grown with the onset of monsoon in different parts of the country and these are harvested in September-October.
  • Important crops grown during this season are paddy, maize, jowar, bajra, tur (arhar), moong, urad, cotton, jute, groundnut and soya bean.
  • Some of the most important rice-growing regions are Assam, West Bengal, coastal regions of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra, particularly the (Konkan coast) along with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • In states like Assam, West Bengal and Orissa, three crops of paddy are grown in a year. These are Aus, Aman and Boro.



  • In between Rabi and Kharif, there is a short season during the summer months known as the Zaid
  • Some of the crops produced during ‘zaid’ are water melon, muskmelon, cucumber, vegetables and fodder crops.
  • Sugarcane is an Annual Crop

Major Crops Cultivated in India

Name of the Crop and SeasonGeographical Conditions requiredAreas CultivatedMain Features
Kharif Season
• Temperature: Above 250c
• Rainfall: Above 100 cm/year
• Humidity: High
• Irrigation is required in the areas of less rainfall
• The Plains of the North and the North East
• The Deltaic Regions of the South
• Rice Producing States are states are West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Assam etc.
• It is the major Staple Food Crop of India.
• India is the second largest producer after China.
• Temperature: Between 100c to 150c during sowing and 210c and 260c at the time of harvesting
• Rainfall: Above 50 -70 cm/year
• Soil: Wheat grows best in well drained fertile loams of either alluvial soils type or black soils type

• Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.• Second main food crop and staple Food crop of North India.
a) Ragi
It’s a crop of regions and grows well on red, black, sandy, loamy and shallow black soils• Karnataka is the largest producer of ragi.
• Tamil Nadu is the second largest producer.
• Apart from these states, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Jharkhand and Arunachal Pradesh are other important producers.
It is very rich in iron, calcium, other micro nutrients and roughage.
b) JowarIt is a rain-fed crop mostly grown in the moist areas which hardly needs irrigation.Maharashtra is the largest producer of jowar followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.Jowar is the third most important food crop with respect to area and production
c) BajraBajra grows well on sandy soils and shallow black soil.Rajasthan is the largest producer of bajra followed by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.
Maize• Temp: 210c to 270c
• It grows well in old alluvial soil.
Major maize-producing states are Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.It is a crop which is used both as food and fodder
Sugarcane• Temp: 210c to 270c
• Rainfall: 75 – 100 cm/year
• It can be grown on a variety of soils and needs manual labour from sowing to harvesting.
The major sugarcane-producing states are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana.• India is the second largest producer of sugarcane only after Brazil.
• It is the main source of sugar, gur (jaggary), khandsari and molasses.
Tea• Tea bushes require warm and moist frost-free climate all through the year.
• Frequent showers evenly distributed over the year ensure continuous growth of tender leaves.
Major tea- producing states are Assam, hills of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.• Tea is a labour - intensive industry.
Coffee• It grows well in the tree shadesKarnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu• India produces about four per cent of the world’s coffee production.
• Initially its cultivation was introduced on the Baba Budan Hills in Karnataka
Rubber• Temp: Above 250c
• Rainfall: Above 100cm/year
• It requires moist and humid climate
It is mainly grown in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andaman and Nicabar islands and Garo hills of Meghalaya.• It is an equatorial crop, but under special conditions, it is also grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas.
• Rubber is an important industrial raw material.
• India is the 5th largest producer of Rubber
• Cotton grows well in drier parts of the black cotton soil of the Deccan plateau.
• . It requires high temperature, light rainfall or irrigation
• It requires 210 frost free days and bright sun shine
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are the major producers of cotton• India is the original home of cotton plant.
• India is the third-largest producer of cotton in the world.
Jute• Jute grows well on well-drained fertile soils in the flood plains where soils are renewed every year.
• High temperature is required during the time of growth.
West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa and Meghalaya are the major jute producing states• It is known as the golden fibre.
• It is used in making gunny bags, mats, ropes, yarn, carpets and other artefacts.
• Due to its high cost, it is losing market to synthetic fibres and packing materials, particularly the nylon.
  • India is the largest producer as well as the consumer of pulses in the world.
  • These are the major source of protein in a vegetarian diet.
  • Major pulses that are grown in India are tur (arhar), urad, moong, masur, peas and gram.
  • Pulses need less moisture and survive even in dry conditions.
  • Being leguminous crops, all these crops except arhar help in restoring soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air.
  • Therefore, these are mostly grown in rotation with other crops.

Major pulse producing states in India are Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

  • India is the largest producer of oil- seeds in the world.
  • Different oil seeds are grown covering approximately 12 per cent of the total cropped area of the country.
  • Main oil-seeds produced in India are groundnut, mustard, coconut, sesamum (til), soya bean, castor seeds, cotton seeds, linseed and sunflower.
  • Most of these are edible and used as cooking medium
  • Some of these are also used as raw material in the production of soap, cosmetics, ointments etc.
  • Groundnut is a kharif crop and accounts for about half of the major oilseeds produced in the country
  • Sesamum is a kharif crop in north and rabi crop in south

Castor seed is grown both as rabi and kharif crop.

  • India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world.
  • India is a producer of tropical as well as temperate fruits.
  • India produces about 13 per cent of the world’s vegetables.

Institutional and Technological Reforms

  • Government Policies that aim at reforming agriculture are called Institutional Reforms.
  • Application of Science and Technology in agriculture is called Technological Reforms.

Why is it needed?

  • Agriculture has been practised in India for thousands of years.
  • Continuous use of land resources without technological reforms has rendered the land useless in many parts of India.
  • Though Multi-Purpose River Valley Projects are there, these are not sufficient. Most farmers depend on monsoon.
  • After independence, India was faced with land ownership problems like zamindari system, absentee landlordism etc.
  • There was acute shortage of food.
  • For a growing population, this poses a serious challenge.
  • Agriculture which provides livelihood for more than 60 per cent of its population, needs some serious technical and institutional.

Institutional Reforms

  • Land Reforms were the priority after independence.
  • Law of inheritance had already subdivided land holdings.
  • So, collectivisation, consolidation of holdings, cooperation and abolition of zamindari, etc. were taken up after independence through Five Year Plans.
  • Though the laws were passed, the implementation of these laws was very slow and unsatisfactory.
  • After the Land Reforms, the next step taken by the Government was to implement Agricultural Reforms in the 1960s and 1979s.
  • Green Revolution was introduced. India did observe quick uptrend in the agricultural production. But, it had its own drawbacks. They are as follows:
  1. Green Revolution benefitted only those regions that were chosen for implementation, i.e., Punjab, Haryana and the Western Uttar Pradesh. The rest of the country was not benefitted.
  2. Over irrigation and over application of chemicals resulted in land degradation in these areas.
  • To overcome the drawbacks of the Green Revolution, Comprehensive Development Programmes were taken up. This included both Institutional and Technological reforms. They are as follows:
  • Provision for crop insurance against drought, flood, cyclone, fire and disease.
  • Establishment of Grameen banks, cooperative societies and banks for providing loan facilities to the farmers at lower rates of interes
  • Kissan Credit Card (KCC), Personal Accident Insurance Scheme (PAIS) are some other schemes introduced by the Government of India for the benefit of the farmers.
  • Special weather bulletins and agricultural programmes for farmers were introduced on the radio and
  • The government also announces minimum support price, remunerative and procurement prices for important crops to check the exploitation of farmers by speculators and
  • Establishment of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), agricultural universities, veterinary services and animal breeding centres and horticulture development programme were taken up.
  • research and development in the field of meteorology and weather forecast, etc. were given priority for improving Indian agriculture.
  • Apart from this, improving the rural infrastructure was also considered essential for the development of agriculture.


Why are Indian Farmers withdrawing their investment from Agriculture?

  • Today, Indian farmers are facing a big challenge from international competition.
  • Our government is going ahead with reduction in the public investment in agriculture sector particularly in irrigation, power, rural roads, market and mechanisation.
  • Subsidy on fertilisers is decreased leading to increase in the cost of production.
  • Moreover, reduction in import duties on agricultural products have proved detrimental to agriculture in the country.

Impact of Globalisation on Agriculture

  • Globalisation was there even when the British ruled us.
  • Manchester and Liverpool could survive only because of cotton exported from India. Thus cotton cultivators and traders flourished.
  • Spice cultivators of South India also flourished as there always has been great demand for Indian spice all over the world.
  • But, the farmers of Champaran who were forced to cultivate Indigo suffered. Thus there was both positive and negative impacts. 
  • After 1990s, Globalisation has posed new threat to Indian Farmers.
  • As the subsidy given to Indian farmers is being cut, they cannot compete in the international market. In developed countries, agriculture is highly subsidised.
  • The average land holding size of Indian farmers is less than a hectare.
  • The Govt. hasn’t taken appreciable measures to help these small farmers.
  • These farmers should adopt ‘Gene Revolution’. That is they should use genetically modified seeds to get maximum yield from their small lands.
  • They should give up cultivating low value cereals and pulses and cultivate high value crops like fruits, vegetables, flowers, bio-diesel crops like Jatropha and Jojoba, medicinal plants and herbs.
  • India’s diverse climate can be very well harnessed to cultivate diverse crops. 
One mark Questions

1 Mark Questions

  1. What is Primitive Subsistence Farming?
  2. What is Intensive Subsistence Farming?
  3. What is Commercial Farming?
  4. What is Kharif? Mention the major crop cultivated in this season.
  5. What is Rabi? Mention the major crop cultivated in this season.
  6. What is Zohad? Mention the major crop cultivated in this season.
  7. What are Aus, Aman and Boro?
  8. Name an Annual Crop.
  9. What is Slash and Burn type of agriculture called in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland?
  10. What is Dipa?
  11. What is Slash and Burn agriculture called in Manipur?
  12. Give any two examples of Plantation crops.
  13. Name the regions where Rice is cultivated.
  14. Which country is the second largest producer of Rice? Name the first one also.
  15. Name the most important cereal crop of India.
  16. Name the crops that have high nutritional value.
  17. Which state is the largest producer of Ragi?
  18. Which country is the largest producer and consumer of pulses?
  19. Which country is the second largest producer of Sugarcane? Name the first one also.
  20. Which state is the largest producer of Sugarcane?
  21. Which country is the second largest producer of Groundnut? Name the first one also.
  22. Which state is the largest producer of Groundnut?
  23. Name the crop that accounts for half of all the oilseeds produced in India.
  24. Name the crop that is Kharif crop in North India and Rabi in South India.
  25. Which country is the third largest producer of Tea? Name the first two also.
  26. Where was the Coffee cultivation introduced in India?
  27. Where did India bring the Arabica variety of Coffee?
  28. Which country is the second largest producer of Fruits and Vegetables.? Name the first one also.
  29. What is Sericulture?
  30. Which crop is called the Golden Fibre?
  31. Which country is the second largest producer of Cotton? Name the first one also.
  32. Who is the protagonist of Bhoodan and Gramdan?
  33. What is MSP (Minimum Support Price)?
  34. What is ICAR?
  35. What are Institutional Reforms and Technological Reforms?
Three mark Questions

3 Mark Questions

  1. Why is the Slash and Burn agriculture called Primitive Subsistence Farming?
  2. What are the features of Intensive Subsistence Farming?
  3. What is Rabi Season? Mention the major crops and areas where they cultivated in this season.
  4. What is Kharif Season? Mention the major crops and areas where they cultivated in this season.
  5. How does Commercial Farming differ from Intensive Subsistence Farming?
  6. What are the geographical conditions required for the cultivation of Coffee?
  7. What are the geographical conditions required for the cultivation of Millets?
  8. What are the geographical conditions required for the cultivation of sugarcane?
  9. Why are Indian farmers withdrawing their investment from agriculture?
  10. What are the drawbacks of Green Revolution?
Five Mark Questions

5 Marks Questions

  1. Discuss the chief characteristics of Commercial Farming.
  2. What are the geographical conditions required for the cultivation of Rice and Wheat?
  3. Discuss the various Institutional and Technological reforms taken up to boost up agricultural production in India.