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  • Agriculture is the main occupation of the Indian population. About two-thirds of the people are engaged in ploughing the land and producing crops, animal rearing, poultry farming, sericulture and bee keeping.
  • Agriculture plays a very important role in the India economy:
  • It is the single largest employment generating sector of the country. Agricultural workers are either directly involved with working in the fields or indirectly involved in storage, trading and processing of agricultural products and in agro-based industries.
  • Agriculture contributes a substantial portion to the national income of India.
  • Agriculture provides raw materials for a number of agro-based industries of India, such as cotton textile industry, rice mills and flour mills, sugar industry, vegetable oil industry and tea industry. India occupies a significant position in the world with respect to the production from these industries.
  • India has achieved self-sufficiency in production of food grains, inspite of a high growth rate of population. Agriculture and allied products contribute about 20 per cent of the country’s total export value.

Factors which influence Indian agriculture may be classified as (a) physical factors and (b) socio-economic factors.

  1. Physical factors
    1. Climate: Climate influences the cropping pattern, cropping season and crop productivity. The onset and withdrawal of the monsoon rainfall, distribution and amount of monsoon rainfall in a year, along with the temperature variation in different parts of the country influence the cropping pattern.
    2. Soil: The alluvial soil and black soil are most important for agriculture. Alluvial soils are found in river valleys, deltas and coastal plains. The plains of North India, drained by the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus are one of the most fertile agricultural lands of the world. The black soil of the Deccan plateau is agriculturally very fertile. With the pressure of population on land, there is a very high demand for food grains. Moreover, an inadequate employment opportunity in non-agricultural sector has led to cultivation of soils which are not too fertile and have lower productivity.
    3. Landform: Flood plains, deltas and coastal plains are ideal for agriculture. In hill slopes, plateau slopes or areas of rough terrain, terrace cultivation is practiced.
  2. Socio-economic factors
    1. Demand: Being the second-most populous country in the world, Indian population puts a huge demand for food crops and cash crops. There is a predominance of food crop production by intensive subsistence methods to feed the huge population. Demand from agro-based industries has, in turn, put a great demand for cash crop production.
    2. Technology: Indian agriculture is traditionally labour-intensive. Use of modern technology like use of chemical fertilisers, proper storage facilities, perennial supply of irrigation water, use of high yielding variety of seeds and agricultural tools have increased the agricultural productivity.
    3. Labour: Availability of cheap labour has made Indian agriculture chiefly labour-intensive. The high man-land ratio has characterised the intensive subsistence farming in India.
    4. Organisation: In subsistence farming, organisation of agriculture does not play a significant role. However, the plantation farming of tea, coffee and rubber in large sized estates requires a well-defined organisation to manage the agricultural inputs and outputs.

Types of Agriculture

In India, the important types of agriculture practiced are as follows:

  1. Primitive subsistence farming: The produce from this type of farming is consumed by the producers (farmers). It is of two types(a) shifting cultivation and (b) sedentary cultivation.
    1. Shifting cultivation is mainly practiced in forest areas. A part of the forest is cleared by felling the trees and burning them. The ash is mixed with soil and agriculture is practiced. The soil loses fertility after a few years, and the farmers move on to another part of the forest to repeat the same process. This practice leads to soil erosion, gives very low productivity and rapidly declines the fertility of the soil. This slash-and-burn method is called ‘Jhuming’ in Assam, ‘Kumari’ in Karnataka, ‘Ponama’ in Kerala and ‘Podu’ in Andhra Pradesh.
    2. Sedentary agriculture is the practice of settled agriculture using traditional methods of farming.
  2. Intensive subsistence farming: This is practiced in a large part of the country, where the farmers plough the land and the produce of crops is used for consumption. It is a labour-intensive method. The land is tilled intensively, and the yield is consumed by the farmers and the surplus is sold in the market. With technological inputs of chemical fertilisers, high-yielding varieties of seeds, supply of water throughout the year, the productivity has improved manifold. The size of farms is usually small. Mainly food crops are produced by this method.
  3. Commercial agriculture: The production of mainly cash crops and cattle for commercial purpose is called commercial agriculture. Large farms, with inputs like farm machineries and irrigation facilities, produce cash crops such as cotton, sugar cane and oil seeds.
  4. Mixed farming: This type of farming is a mixture of crop production and animal rearing in the same land. Rearing of cattle, poultry, sericulture, etc., along with crop production is widely practiced in India. In this method, different crops are raised and sufficient capital is required.
  5. Plantation farming: This is a commercial method of farming, where crops such as tea, coffee, rubber, etc., are grown in large estates. Tea is mainly grown in large plantation areas of Assam and West Bengal, coffee in Karnataka and Kerala, rubber in Kerala, etc., Vegetables, flowers and fruits are also grown in such large scale farming areas.

Agricultural Seasons in India

The agricultural practices in India are predominantly controlled by the monsoons. Although the monsoon rainfall is seasonal, agriculture is carried on throughout the year in different parts of the country. There are two dominant cropping seasons in IndiaKharif and Rabi.

The Kharif season is usually between June to September, when farming takes place during the period of south-west monsoon rainfall. Plants which require an abundant supply of water, such as paddy, oilseeds, pulses, cotton, maize, jute, etc., grow during the kharif season.

The Rabi season occurs in the post-monsoon season, between October and February. Wheat is the major rabi crop in India. Other winter crops are barley, tobacco, oilseeds, cotton, peas, gram, mustard etc.

In between the Rabi and Kharif season, there is a short growing season during the summer months called the Zaid season. Crops of this season are watermelons, muskmelons, some vegetables and fodder crops.

Major Crops in India

The favourable conditions for the growth of major crops in India are as follows:

Name of the Crop


Amount of

Other Requirements

Areas of Growth



1. Kharif crop

Annual rainfall above 100 cm

1. In areas of lesser rainfall requires irrigation.

2. High humidity

3. Fertile alluvial soil

4. Flat low-lying land where water can remain standing is ideal.

1. Plains of north and north-east India, coastal plains and deltas.

2. With tube-wells and canal irrigation in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, parts of Rajasthan

1. Staple crop

2. India is the second largest producer in the world after China

3. Types of rice: Aus, Aman, Boro.


1. Rabi crop

2. Cool growing season with temperature 10–12°C, bright sunshine during ripening

100–150 cm annually

1. Loamy soil

2. Alluvial soil

1. Sutlej-Ganga plain of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh

2. Black soil region of Deccan

1. Main food crop in north and northeast India

Millets (Jowar, Bajra, Ragi)

Jowar—26 °C–32 °C

40–50 cm

1. Rainfed crop

2. Desert soils, mixed red and black soils

Maharashtra (highest), Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh

1. Coarse grains with high nutritional value

2. The third most important crop in India

Bajra—26 °C–33 °C

30–50 cm

1. Sandy soil

2. Shallow black soil

Rajasthan (highest), Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana




1. In drier areas.

2. Grows in sandy, loamy, red and shallow black soil.

Karnataka (highest), Tamil Nadu, Also in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh

Rich in iron, calcium and other micro-nutrients.


1. Kharif crop

2. 16°C–27°C

75–100 cm annually

1. Old alluvial soil

2. Use of inputs like HYV seeds, irrigation and fertilisers have increased production

1. Karnataka

2. Uttar Pradesh

3. Bihar

4. Andhra Pradesh

5. Madhya Pradesh

Used as both food crop and fodder



50–100 cm

1. Need less moisture

2. Can grow even in dry condition

1. Madhya Pradesh

2. Uttar Pradesh

3. Rajasthan

4. Karnataka

5. Maharashtra

1. India is the largest producer and consumer of pulses in the world.

2. Major source of protein

3. Major types are tur, urad, moong, masur, peas and gram

4. Leguminous plants—restores soil fertility by nitrogen fixation


1. Tropical and sub-tropical areas

2. 21°C–27 °C

3. Hot and humid climate

1. 75–100 cm annually

2. Irrigation needed in areas of lower rainfall

1. Labour intensive

2. Can grow in variety of soils

1. Uttar Pradesh

2. Maharashtra

3. Karnataka

4. Tamil Nadu

5. Andhra Pradesh

6. Bihar

7. Punjab

8. Haryana

1. The second largest producer in the world after Brazil.

2. Main source of sugar, jaggery, molasses


1. 15°C–25°C

2. Groundnut— Kharif crop

3. Linseed and mustard—Rabi crops

4. Sesamum and
castor—both Kharif and Rabi crops

50–120 cm

Irrigation is essential in areas having less than 50 cm rainfall

Andhra Pradesh (highest), Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra

1. India—largest producer in the world

2. Major oil seeds are groundnut, mustard, coconut, sesamum, soyabean, castor seed, sunflower, cotton seed.

3. Used as edible oil, raw material for cosmetics, soap and ointments


1. Tropical and subtropical climate

2. 16°C-30°C

Over 300 cm annually

1. Deep and fertile well-drained soil rich in humus and organic matter.

2. Require warm and frost-free climate

3. Frequent showers throughout the year helps growth of tea leaves

1. Assam

2. Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal

3. Tamil Nadu

4. Kerala

1. Plantation crop

2. Beverage crop

3. Labour intensive industry

4. Tea estates have processing plants

5. India–largest producer and exporter in the world.


1. Tropical cup

2. 15 °C–25 °C

Around 150 cm annually

1. Hill slopes and gently rolling plateau

2. Labour intensive

Nilgiri hills of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu

1. Very good quality

2. India—4% of world’s coffee production

3. Plantation crop


1. Moist and humid climate

2. Above 25°C

Rainfall over 200 cm annually


1. Kerala

2. Tamil Nadu

3. Karnataka

4. Andaman and Nicobar islands

1. Non-food crop

2. Equatorial crop, but grows in plantations in tropical and subtropical areas.

3. Important industrial raw material

4. India—fifth in the world in production of natural rubber


1. Kharif crop

2. Lower limit is 18°C

50–120 cm

1. There are 210 frost-free days

2. Bright sunshine

3. Black cotton soil of the Deccan is ideally suitable

1. Maharashtra

2. Gujarat

3. Madhya Pradesh

4. Karnataka

5. Andhra Pradesh

6. Tamil Nadu

7. Punjab

8. Haryana

9. Uttar Pradesh

1. Fibre crop

2. India—thrid largest producer in the world

3. Supplies raw material for cotton textile industry


Hot and humid climate

1. Above 170 cm annually

2. Very high humidity during growing period—

1. Well-drained fertile alluvial soil

2. Low lying plains, which can be inundated

1. West Bengal

2. Bihar

3. Assam

4. Orissa

1. Known as golden fibre

2. Supply raw material to jute textile industry—produces mats, ropes, gunny bags, carpets, etc.

Apart from these major crops, a number of vegetable and fruits are grown in India. Mango (Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal), oranges (Maharashtra and Meghalaya), bananas (Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu), lichi and guava (Uttar Pradesh and Bihar), grapes (Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka), apples, walnuts, peas, apricots in the temperate zones of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are some of the major fruit crops of India. Vegetables such as potato, onion, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, brinjal, peas are grown in India, which accounts for 13 per cent of world’s vegetable production.

Livestock Rearing

Dairy farming and cattle rearing are major occupations of Indians. India has a large number of cattle and domesticated animals. Cattle, buffalo, goats, sheep and pigs are reared in India. Poultry farming is a major commercial occupation. Scientific research centres are established at Mumbai, Bhuvaneshwar, Chandigarh and Bangalore. Dairy farming and commercial production of milk provide opportunities for rural employment. Rearing of silkworm, called sericulture, is a traditional occupation in several parts of India. India ranks second in the world in terms of silk production. Karnataka stands first in production of silk in India. Other producing states are Assam, Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Operation flood is an initiative to increase milk production in India. It is also known as the white revolution.

Problems of Indian Agriculture and the Measures to Solve These Problems

Major Problems of Indian Agriculture

High man–land ratio: Increasing pressure of population on a more or less fixed area of cultivable land is considered to be one of the major problems of Indian agriculture.

Low productivity:
 The crop productivity (that is, yield per hectare) in India is not only much lower compared to the developed countries, it is lower than some of the Asian countries.

Traditional techniques:
 The farm techniques are very traditional and dependent on animals as a source of energy in greater parts of the country.

Land tenure system:
 Lack of proper implementation of the land reform programs and insecure land tenure system is prevalent in a greater part of India. This has led to low productivity.

Inadequate storage and marketing facilities:
 This is mainly faced by producers of cash crops and discourages the farmers to produce more.

Shifting cultivation:
 This practice, mainly found in north-eastern hilly areas, destroys the fertility of the soil and leads to excessive soil erosion as a result of deforestation.

Soil erosion:
 This is a major problem in different parts of India. Loss of soil nutrients, removal of forest cover and high intensity rainfall in areas of drought causes degradation in the fertility of soil.

Measures for Improving Indian Agriculture

 Double cropping or multi-cropping to increase agricultural productivity has been possible with extending irrigation facilities. In Punjab and Haryana, productivity of food crops has increased largely due to irrigation facilities from ‘Green Revolution’.

High yielding variety of seeds:
 Increased productivity due to use of high yielding variety of seeds is one of the major factors that have led to the success of Green Revolution in India.

 The fertiliser consumption in India has largely increased due to the use of HYV seeds. Supply of chemical fertilisers at affordable cost to the farmers has increased crop production.

Cropping pattern:
 Double cropping, multiple cropping, rotation of crops are some of the measures that have contributed improved agriculture.

Government support:
 Credit facilities, public distribution system (PDS), development of irrigation facilities, land reform systems introduced in different parts of the country and rural development programs have helped to improve the agricultural scenario in India.

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