Indian Agriculture

Indian Agriculture | Geography


  • Agriculture plays a vital role in socio – economic development of India.
  • It is a source of livelihood and food security for Indians.
  • It constitutes a large share of the country‘s national income because more than half of India‘s workforce is employed in agriculture.
  • The growth of industries and trade also depend on the growth of agriculture.
  • In India different agricultural patterns are practiced due to varied geographical factors.
  • We will deal about how geographical factors determine the agricultural activities and patterns of agriculture and how agriculture contributes to the national economy.
  • Major determinant factors of agriculture
  • Landform
  • Climate
  • Soil types
  • water


  • India is a land of diverse Landscape comprising of mountains, plateaus and plains.
  • Among them, the plains are more suitable for agriculture due to rich alluvial soil which enhances agricultural productivity. For example Plains of Ganga and Cauvery.


  • Most part of India lies within the tropics and enjoys a tropical monsoon climate.
  • The abundant solar energy favours the growth of crops throughout the year.
  • The seasonal rainfall added with the irrigational facilities also contributes to the cultivation of crops in all seasons.
  • The amount of rainfall determines the cropping pattern.
  • For example
  • wheat requires moderate temperature whereas rice requires a high temperature for its growth.
  • That is why wheat is cultivated in Punjab and rice is cultivated in Tamil Nadu.

Soil Types

  • In Spite of the growth in technology soil still continues to be one of the most important geographical factors in determining the cropping pattern.
  • Rich alluvial soil favours the growth of rice and sugarcane while black soil favours the growth of cotton.


  • Another most important factor in determining agriculture is the availability of water.
  • India is a monsoon country with uneven distribution of rainfall.
  • Irrigation facilities cannot be given to all parts of the nation. So crops that require abundant water are grown in areas of high rainfall or in regions covered under irrigation.
  • To meet the food requirement of the growing population in the areas of low rainfall dry crops are grown.

Types of agriculture

Four different types of farming are generally practised in our country and they are

  • Private Agriculture
  • Subsistence Agriculture
  • Commercial Agriculture
  • Plantation Agriculture

Private Agriculture

  • Primitive agriculture is practised in the forest areas where heavy rainfall occurs.
  • A portion of the forest is cleared for cultivation and crops are raised for two or three years.
  • Then they abandon the land and shift to another part. This is still practised on a small scale in the North Eastern States, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
  • Primitive agriculture is known by different names at different places such as “Jhum” in Assam, “Podu” in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, “Mashan” in Madhya Pradesh and “Ponam” in Kerala.

Subsistence Agriculture

  • The Predominant type of Indian agriculture is subsistence farming.
  • In this type nearly half of the production is used for family consumption and the rest is sold in the nearby markets.
  • The farmers concentrate on staple food crops like rice and wheat. Example
  • North Ganga Plain
  • the south Cauvery
  • Krishna
  • Godavari
  • Mahanadhi plains
  • Large scale improvement has been made in Indian agriculture after independence.
  • The farmer tries to get the maximum possible output from the available land with high input of fertilizers, manures, hybrid variety of seeds, farm machinery and irrigation facilities wherever possible.
  • This type of agriculture is also known as “Intensive agriculture” and it as generally practised in alluvial plains.
  • Rice the staple food of South India, occupies 44 million hectares.
  • It is the largest rice grown area in the world. India achieved self – sufficiency in rice in 1977 and regularly exports a small quantity of high-quality basmati rice.

Commercial Agriculture

  • Crops in great demand are grown in commercial agriculture.
  • In this type, crops are raised on a large scale with the view of exporting them to other countries and for earning foreign exchange.
  • This type of agriculture is otherwise called as “Extensive agriculture”.
  • It is practiced in Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
  • Commercial agricultural products are used as raw materials in the agro-based industries.
  • Example cereals, cotton, sugarcane, jute etc.

Plantation Agriculture

  • In this type of agriculture, the single crop is raised in a large area.
  • The plantation has an interface of agriculture and industry.
  • The Plantations are mostly owned by the companies.
  • Tea, Coffee and Rubber are plantation crops.
  • These crops are grown on the hilly areas of North Eastern States of India, West Bengal, The Nilgiris, Anaimalai and Cardamom hills of South India.

Cropping Pattern

  • The farmers decide the cropping pattern.
  • The traditional way of cropping pattern based on the climate.
Name Method Crops (eg.)
Mono or  Unicropping One of the crop at one time Tea, Coffee, Sugarcane
Dual Cropping or Double Cropping Two crops at a time Wheat with Mustard
Multiple Cropping More than two crops Barely Mustard Wheat                    Jowar – Bajra Groundnut


Agricultural Season of India

  • The agricultural activities begin with the onset of monsoon in the month of June.
  • India has three major cropping seasons in a year

Agricultural Seasons


Name Sowing period Harvest period Major Crops
Kharif June (Beginning of monsoon) Early days of November Paddy, Maize, Cotton, Millet, Jute, Sugarcane
Rabi November (Beginning of winter) March (Beginning of summer) Wheat, Tobacco, Mustard, Pulses, Linseed, Grains
Zaid November (Beginning of winter) June (Beginning of Monsoon) Fruits, Vegetables, Watermelons, Cucumber


Production of Food Crops

  • Diversity of food crops is ascertained according to the factors of temperature, rainfall and soil type.
  • The major food crops of India are


  • Paddy is the most important food crop in India. India stands in second place in the production of paddy.
  • India and China together produce about 90 % of the total world production of paddy.
  • In areas of less rainfall particularly in Punjab and Haryana, it is grown with the help of irrigation.
  • Cheap labour is required for sowing, weeding, harvesting and other processes.
  • Sugandh 5, Sukaradhara 1 is the hybrid variety seeds recommended for the cultivation in the areas of Haryana, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and uphill’s of Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.
  • The other rice-producing states are West Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa in North India and Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh in south India.
  • Most of the production is consumed locally due to dense population.
  • Rice is cultivating two to three times in a year intensively in the deltas of Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery.
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), was established in 1929.
  • India‘s transformation from a food deficit to a food surplus country is largely due to ICAR’s Smooth and rapid transfer of farm technology from the laboratory to the land.

Paddy Cultivation in Tamil Nadu

  • There is something special about paddy cultivation Thanjavur District, ‘rice bowl’ of Tamil Nadu.
  • The paddy crops grown in this region are classified as Samba, Kuruvai and ‘Thaladi’ on the basis of the duration of paddy growth, Samba is a long term crop.
  • It is grown for about five to six months.
  • Kuruvai is a crop grown within three or four months.
  • The paddy grown in the field ploughed with the stumps of the previous harvest is known colloquially as the Thaladi.
  • Although this way of cultivation of paddy is still in practice, it is now been changed with the impact of modern cropping.
  • This has also led to great change even in harvest seasons.


  • Wheat is an important food Crop. It is the staple food for the northern and northwestern part of India.  Wheat is cultivated both in winter and spring.
  • Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are the major producers.
  • Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Andra Pradesh are the other wheat-producing states.
  • The production of wheat has been increased in Punjab and Haryana due to the impact of the Green Revolution.
  • Our country is now in a position to export wheat to other countries.
  • Besides, paddy and wheat, dry crops also play a vital role in the food



Title Associated with the production of
Green Revolution Agricultural Crops
White Revolution Milk and Milk products
Grey Revolution Eggs and Poultry
Golden Revolution Horticulture
Yellow Revolution Oil Seeds
Blue Revolution Marine Products


  • Grain production. They grow well even in the infertile soil.
  • They are drought-resistant crops.
  • Millets as cereal crops are intermediate between rice and wheat.
  • It includes jowar, bajra and ragi. Millets are coarse grain and dry crops.
  • They are cultivated in poor soils.
  • They are rich in nutritional content higher than wheat or rice.
  • They also provide fodder for cattle.
  • Millets are grown in almost all the states in India, but the important producers are
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Uttar Pradesh
  • Karnataka
  • Orissa
  • Bihar
  • Maharashtra
  • Gujarat


  • Pulse crops include a large number of crops which are mostly leguminous and rich in proteins.
  • Pulses serve as an excellent fodder through grams are the most important pulses.
  • Other pulses are black gram, green gram, lentil, horse gram, peas etc.
  • Pulses are grown in a wide range of climatic conditions mostly in drier areas with or without irrigation facilities.
  • Pulses require mild cool weather and a low to moderate rainfall.
  • The most important producers are Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andra Pradesh and Tamilnadu.

Cash Crops

  • May other crops are also cultivated in our country in addition to the above food crops.
  • Sugarcane
  • cotton
  • Jute
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Oil Seeds
  • Tobacco
  • Rubber are some among then.
  • They are mainly produced as raw materials for industries.
  • Besides, they form export material that can earn foreign exchange.
  • So they are known as cash crops.
  • They have a great influence on the Indian economy also.


  • Sugar Cane is a tropical crop.
  • It grows well in the hot humid climate.
  • India is the birth place of sugarcane.
  • It ranks second in production next to Brazil.
  • The Major sugarcane producing states are Uttar Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Andra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana.


  • Cotton is a major fibre crop of India. It provides the raw material for the cotton textile industry.  Cotton grows well in Tropical and subtropical climate.
  • Black soil is the most suitable soil for cotton cultivation.
  • India has the fourth position in the world cotton production.
  • The main cotton-growing states are
  • Gujarat
  • Maharashtra
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Karnataka
  • Tamilnadu
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Punjab
  • Haryana


  • Jute is also the most important fibre crop next to cotton.
  • The fibre is the cheapest and has a commercial demand because of its softness, strength, length and uniformity.
  • It is demanded the manufacture of gunny bags, hessian, carpets, ropes, strings, rugs and cloth, tarpaulin, upholstery etc.
  • Its cultivation is restricted mainly to the Ganga Brahumputra delta in West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam and Meghalaya.
  • Because this crop requires hot and damp climate.
  • The soil should be well-drained fertile soil in the flood plains where soils are renewed every year.


  • Tobacco is said to have been brought to India by the Portuguese in 1508.
  • Since then cultivation gradually spread to different parts of the country.
  • India is the third-largest producer followed by China and U.S.A The major tobacco-producing states are Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka

Oil Seeds

  • India is one of the oil seed producing countries of the world.
  • India grows all types of oil seeds except olive and palm oil.
  • Oil seeds are grown mainly in the tropical and subtropical regions.

Indian Oil Seeds are

  • Groundnut
  • Seas mum
  • Rape seed
  • Mustard lin seed
  • Sunflower seed

Producing states are

  • Gujarat
  • Maharashtra
  • Tamilnadu
  • Andra Pradesh
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Orissa
  • Karnataka


  • It is an important beverage crop.
  • The tea plant grows well in tropical and subtropical climates endowed with deep and fertile soil.
  • Well-drained hill slopes between 3000 – 4000 feet height is suitable for cultivation.
  • Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the major producers.


  • Coffee is the most important beverage crop.
  • Indian coffee is known for its quality.
  • Karnataka produces 60% of Indian coffee.
  • Other coffee growing states are Kerala and Tamil Nadu.


  • Rubber is obtained from the latex of the rubber tree.
  • Through India occupies sixth position in the world in once of cultivation in production of natural rubber it stands fifth in the world.
  • Rubber plantations cover large areas in the southern part of India.
  • About 95 % of the areas are confined to the lower elevations of the Western Ghats in Kerala State and 5 % is spread over Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Fruits and vegetables are an important supplement to the human diet, as they provide essential minerals, vitamins and fibres required for maintaining health.
  • India has the second position in the production of fruits and vegetables.
  • Apple is mostly produced in Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir and Uttaranchal.
  • Production of banana is concentrated in Tamilnadu and Maharashtra.
  • Orange is cultivated in Maharashtra, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • Grape is cultivated mainly in Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
  • India contributes about 13 % of the world’s production of vegetables

 Animal Husbandry and Fisheries

  • Animal husbandry plays an important role in the overall economy and in supplementing the family income.
  • It generates employment in the rural sector particularly among the landless, small and marginal farmers and women.
  • Production of suitable crossbreeds and their wider adoptions has contributed to an increase in the country‘s milk production.
  • Poultry and eggs are increasing through genetic improvement and better management Practices.
  • The contribution of these sub-sectors is estimated to be about 25 percent of the total value of output agricultural elector.
  • Through the overall contribution of fisheries is small, multilayer fish culture has resulted in a very high annual growth during the past decade.

Development in Bio-Technology

  • The National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology was established in 1985 to undertake research, teaching and training personnel in the modern areas of ‘Molecular biology and Biotechnology’.

Challenges for Indian Agriculture

  • Indian agriculture is a gamble of monsoon. Monsoons are irregular unevenly distributed and uncertain.
  • It exerts a very unfavourable influence on agriculture.
  • The Serious drainage problem caused by the increased construction of roads, railways and canals disturbed the natural drainage system by checking the normal flow of rainwater and bringing heavy floods.
  • This results in large scale damage to Kharif crop and considerable late sowing of rabi crop.
  • The rapid increase in the construction work of industries and residential buildings reduce the extent of cultivable lands.
  • Global climatic changes affect agriculture through their direct and indirect effects on the crops, soil, livestock and pests.
  • The previous strategies for more productivity cause serious problems of environmental and natural resource degradation.
  • In future technologies must result not only in increased productivity level but also ensure the quality of natural resources.
  • It will lead to sustainable improvements in agricultural production.
  • At present we can say that India is in a comfortable position in food production.
  • In future India‘s population might increase to 1300 million approximately by the year 2020.
  • At that time with efficient management of natural resources will meet the increasing demand by adopting modern technology in farming, by increasing farmer ‘s access to markets, improving agricultural productivity and public education.

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