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Lesson 6, Topic 4
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Chapter- 4 Agriculture

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Types of Farming

1) Primitive Subsistence Farming

  • Primitive subsistence agriculture is practised on small patches of land with the help of primitive tools like hoe, dao and digging sticks, and family/community labour.

  • This type of farming depends upon monsoon, natural fertility of the soil and suitability of other environmental conditions to the crops grown.

  • It is ‘slash and burn’ agriculture. Farmers clear a patch of land and produce cereals and other food crops to sustain their family. When the soil fertility decreases, the farmers shift and clear a fresh patch of land for cultivation. This type of shifting allows Nature to replenish the fertility of the soil.

  • It is jhumming in north-eastern states like Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, Pamlou in Manipur, Dipa in Bastar district of Chattishgarh, and in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

2) Intensive Subsistence Farming

  • This type of farming is practised in areas of high population pressure on land. It is labour-intensive farming, where high doses of biochemical inputs and irrigation.

  • Though the ‘right of inheritance’ leading to the division of land among successive generations has rendered land-holding size uneconomical, 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.

3) Commercial Farming

  • The main characteristic of this type of farming is the use of higher doses of modern inputs, e.g. high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides in order 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 crop.

  • Plantation is also a type of commercial farming. In this type of farming, a single crop is grown on a large area. Plantations cover large tracts of land, using capital intensive inputs, with the help of migrant labourers. All the produce is used as raw material in respective industries.

  • In India, tea, coffee, rubber, sugarcane, banana, etc. are important plantation crops.

Cropping Pattern

India has three cropping seasons — rabi, kharif and zaid.

  1. 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. These crops are grown in large parts of India, states from the north and north-western parts such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttaranchal 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 helps in the success of these crops. However, 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.
  1. 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 soyabean. 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.
  1. In between the rabi and the kharif seasons, there is a short season during the summer months known as the Zaid season. Some of the crops produced during ‘zaid’ are watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber, vegetables and fodder crops. Sugarcane takes almost a year to grow.

Major Crops

1) Rice:

  • It is the staple food crop of a majority of the people in India.

  • Our country is the second largest producer of rice in the world after China.

  • It is a kharif crop which requires high temperature, (above 25°C) and high humidity with annual rainfall above 100 cm.

  • Rice is grown in the plains of north and north-eastern India, coastal areas and the deltaic regions. Development of dense network of canal irrigation and tubewells have made it possible to grow rice in areas of less rainfall such as Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan.

2) Wheat:

  • This is the second most important cereal crop. It is the main food crop, in north and north-western part of the country.

  • This rabi crop requires a cool growing season and a bright sunshine at the time of ripening. It requires 50 to 75 cm of annual rainfall evenly-distributed over the growing season.

  • There are two important wheat-growing zones in the country – the Ganga-Satluj plains in the north-west and black soil region of the Deccan.

  • The major wheat-producing states are Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and parts of Madhya Pradesh.

3) Millets:

  • Jowar, bajra and ragi are the important millets grown in India. Though these are known as coarse grains, they have very high nutritional value. For example, ragi is very rich in iron, calcium, other micro-nutrients and roughage.

  • Jowar is the third most important food crop with respect to area and production. It 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.

  • Bajra grows well on sandy soils and shallow black soil. Rajasthan is the largest producer of bajra followed by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.

  • Ragi grows well on red, black, sandy, loamy and shallow black soils. Karnataka is the largest producer of ragi followed by Tamil Nadu.

4) Maize:

  • It is a crop which is used both as food and fodder.

  • It is a kharif crop which requires temperature between 21°C to 27°C and grows well in old alluvial soil. In some states like Bihar maize is grown in rabi season also.

  • Use of modern inputs such as HYV seeds, fertilisers and irrigation have contributed to the increasing production of maize. Major maize-producing states are Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

5) Pulses:

  • 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.

Food Crops other than Grains

1) Sugarcane:

  • It is a tropical as well as a subtropical crop. It grows well in hot and humid climate with a temperature of 21°C to 27°C and an annual rainfall between 75cm and 100cm.

  • Irrigation is required in the regions of low rainfall.

  • It can be grown on a variety of soils and needs manual labour from sowing to harvesting. India is the second largest producer of sugarcane only after Brazil.

  • It is the main source of sugar, gur (jaggary), khandsari and molasses. The major sugarcane-producing states are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana.

2) Oil Seeds:

  • 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, sesame (til), soyabean, castor seeds, cotton seeds, linseed and sunflower. Most of these are edible and used as cooking mediums.

  • However, some of these are also used as raw material in the production of soap, cosmetics and ointments.

  • Groundnut is a kharif crop and accounts for about half of the major oilseeds produced in the country. Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of groundnut followed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Castor seed is grown both as rabi and kharif crop.

3) Tea:

  • Tea cultivation is an example of plantation agriculture.

  • The tea plant grows well in tropical and sub-tropical climates endowed with deep and fertile well-drained soil, rich in humus and organic matter.

  • 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. Tea is a labour-intensive industry. It requires abundant, cheap and skilled labour.

  • Tea is processed within the tea garden to restore its freshness. Major tea-producing states are Assam, hills of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

  • India is the leading producer as well as exporter of tea in the world.

4) Coffee:

  • India produces about four per cent of the world’s coffee production. Indian coffee is known in the world for its good quality.

  • The Arabica variety initially brought from Yemen is produced in the country. This variety is in great demand all over the world.

  • Initially its cultivation was introduced on the Baba Budan Hills and even today its cultivation is confined to the Nilgiri in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Non-Food Crops

1) Rubber:

  • It is an equatorial crop, but under special conditions, it is also grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

  • It requires moist and humid climate with rainfall of more than 200 cm and temperature above 25°C.

  • Rubber is an important industrial raw material. It is mainly grown in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Garo hills of Meghalaya.

  • India ranks fifth among the world’s natural rubber producers.

2) Fibre Crops:

  • Cotton, jute, hemp and natural silk are the four major fibre crops grown in India.

  • The first three are derived from the crops grown in the soil, the latter is obtained from cocoons of the silkworms fed on green leaves especially mulberry. Rearing of silk worms for the production of silk fibre is known as sericulture.

3) Cotton:

  • Cotton is one of the main raw materials for cotton textile industry.

  • India is the third-largest producer of cotton in the world.

  • Cotton grows well in drier parts of the black cotton soil of the Deccan plateau.

  • It requires high temperature, light rainfall or irrigation, 210 frost-free days and bright sun-shine for its growth. It is a kharif crop and requires 6 to 8 months to mature.

  • Major cotton-producing states are – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

4) Jute:

  • It is known as the golden fibre.

  • 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 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.

Technological and Institutional Reforms

  • The Green Revolution based on the use of package technology and the White Revolution (Operation Flood) were some of the strategies initiated to improve the lot of Indian agriculture.

  • 1980s and 1990s, a comprehensive land development programme was initiated, which included both institutional and technical reforms. 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 interest were some important steps in this direction.

  • 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 television. The government also announces minimum support price, remunerative and procurement prices for important crops to check the exploitation of farmers by speculators and middlemen.

Food Security

In order to ensure availability of food to all sections of society our government carefully designed a national food security system. It consists of two components

(a) buffer stock and

(b) public distribution system (PDS).

PDS is a programme which provides food grains and other essential commodities at subsidised prices in rural and urban areas.

The FCI procures food grains from the farmers at the government announced minimum support price (MSP).

The consumers are divided into two categories: below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL).

  • Creation of necessary infrastructure like irrigation facilities, availability of electricity etc. may also attract private investments in agriculture.

  • The focus on increasing food grain production which should be on a sustainable basis and also free trade in grains will create massive employment and reduce poverty in rural areas.

  • There has been a gradual shift from cultivation of food crops to cultivation of fruits, vegetables, oil-seeds and industrial crops. This has led to the reduction in net sown area under cereals and pulses.

  • The competition for land between non-agricultural uses such as housing etc. and agriculture has resulted in reduction in the net sown area. The productivity of land has started showing a declining trend.

  • Fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides, which once showed dramatic results, are now being held responsible for degrading the soils. Periodic scarcity of water has led to reduction in area under irrigation.

  • Inefficient water management has led to water logging and salinity.