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Salient Features of Indian Agriculture – Part 1

Agriculture – backbone of Indian economy

  • India is an agricultural economy where approx. 49% of the people depend on agriculture.
  • Net sown area still accounts for about 47% of the total cultivable area of India.
  • Accounts for about 35% of our national income.
  • Share in GDP 14 %
  • Provides food for the people and fodder for the animals.
  • Main source of raw materials to the agro-based industries viz. sugar, textile, edible oil, etc.
  • Provides market for many agricultural finished products
  • Source of Foreign exchange through exports of agriculture-based produce.
  • Helps in better distribution of income and wealth.


Salient Features of Indian Agriculture 

  • Subsistence Type
  • Dependent on unreliable monsoon (60 %)
  • India’s vast relief, varying climate and soil conditions produce a variety of crops
  • All tropical, subtropical and temperate crops are grown
  • Predominance of food crop 2/3rd of total cropped area
  • Poor electricity, storage, water, credit & marketing
  • Less Mechanization; Inadequate Agricultural research
  • 1st rank in Milk (17% of world production), Mango, banana, coconut, cashew, papaya, peas, cassava and pomegranate
  • Largest producer and exporter of spices, Millets, Pulses, Dry Bean, Ginger
  • Overall, second largest producer of vegetable, fruits and fishes
  • Have three main cropping seasons viz. Kharif, Rabi & Zaid

Salient Features of Indian Agriculture

Kharif Crops
  • Also known as Monsoon / Summer Crops
  • Requires plenty of water
  • Require long hot weather for growth
  • Sown May – July , Harvest Sep – Oct
  • Major Crops Paddy, Sugarcane, Maize, Jowar, Bajra, Cotton, Pulses, Groundnut, Soybean, Sunflower, Tea, Coffee, Rubber, Sesame, Guar etc.
Rabi Crops
  • Also known as Winter Season Crops
  • Requires less water
  • Require cold weather for growth
  • Sown Oct – Nov, Harvest Feb – April
  • Major Crops Wheat, Gram, Potato, Peas, Oil seeds (Rapeseed, linseed), Mustard etc. 
Zaid Crops 
  • Sown between Rabi & Kharif crops i.e. from March to June
  • Requires warm dry weather for growth & longer day length for flowering
  • Major Crops Seasonal fruits & vegetables (Musk melon, Water melon, Cucumber, China Paddy, Gourds, Fodder crops)

Causes for backwardness of Indian Agriculture 

  • Old methods of cultivation due to illiteracy & unawareness
  • Over-dependence on monsoons
  • Floods and droughts; Soil erosion
  • Small and fragmented land holding
  • Practice of dividing and subdividing land for inheritance
  • Poor quality of seeds – poor productivity
  • Faulty & unreliable irrigation facilities
  • Lack of proper use of manure and Fertilizer
  • Reluctant to use modern scientific methods of cultivation
  • Excessive pressure on land High crop intensity
  • Unsound credit system and poverty of the farmers
  • Defective marketing and low prices of produces
  • Poor electricity, storage, water, credit & marketing
  • Less Mechanization ; Inadequate Agricultural research


Solutions for Indian Agriculture 

  • Better irrigation facilities viz. Drip & sprinkler irrigation
  • Consolidation of Land Holdings & land reforms
  • Deploy Soil Conservation techniques
  • Mechanization, hybrid seeds, fertilizer, pesticides
  • Scientific farming & educating the farmers about the same
  • Spread Green revolution to all states
  • Financial inclusion in rural areas to provide sound credit system
  • Providing proper electricity & storage system for agricultural produces
  • Storage house near farms for better food processing
  • Skilling farmers to prevent wastage of labour use
  • Improving rural infrastructure
  • Providing real time market price for agri produces
Drip Irrigation

  • Also Known as low- flow, Micro, and Trickle Irrigation
  • Frequent, slow application of water, drop by drop, at the plant base through a network of pipelines.
  • Most suitable for arid, semi – arid & rainfed regions where dry farming is practiced
  • NABARD provides subsidized loans to farmers to buy sprinkler & drip irrigation system
Current Irrigation Resources 

  • Wells & Tube wells = 60 %
  • Canal Irrigation = 30 %
  • Tanks = 6 %
  • Multipurpose Projects = 2 %

Agricultural Practices & Terminologies

  • Science of cultivating soil, raising crops and rearing livestock including fishing and forests
Agricultural Land
  • Net Cropped area + Fallow Land Cultivated Area
Net Cropped Area
  • Total area sown in country
  • Also known as net sown area
  • Area sown more than once in a year counted only once
Fallow Land
  • Land left out of cultivation for a definite period of time to restore its fertility
Gross Sown Area
  • Also known as Gross Cropped Area
  • Sum total of Area sown more than once in agricultural year + Net sown area
Cropping intensity
  • No. of crops raised on field during an agricultural year
  • (Total Crop Area / Net sown area) * 100  ~132 % for India
Agricultural Efficiency
  • Ratio of Output to input
  • Input includes manpower, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides etc.
Yield / Area     
  • Intensive agriculture
  • Heavy manpower & inputs deployed India, Japan
Yield / Person
  • Extensive agriculture
  • Very large land holdings & very less manpower USA, Russia, Canada
Cropping Pattern
  • Refers to proportion of area under different crops at a given point of time
  • Broadly, cropping pattern in India shows greater production of food grains than non-food grains
Food Crops
  • Food Grains
  • Cereals & Millets + Pulses
  • Fruits & Vegetables
Non Food Crops
  • Oil seeds
  • Fiber crops
  • Forage crops
Commercial Agriculture
  • Farmer grows the crop with the aim of selling it in the market i.e. for monetary purpose
  • Also known as cash crops
  • Ex: Cotton, Sugarcane, Tobacco, Tea etc.
Plantation Agriculture
  • A large-scale farming of one crop resembling the factory production
  • Processing and marketing the final products
  • Ex: Coffee, Rubber, Coconut, Spices etc.
Fiber Crops
  • Cash crops which yield fibers
  • Used for making textiles or packaging materials
  • Examples include Jute & Cotton
Fodder Crops
  • Harvested when green
  • Used as cattle fodder ex. Barseem
  • Some fodder crops can also be matured as food grains ex. Jowar
Mixed Cropping
  • Also known as Multiple cropping
  • When two or more than two crops are grown simultaneously on the same field
  • Increases crop yield & Fertility of soil
Mixed Farming
  • Cultivation of crops + Rearing of animals
  • Fodder crops >> An important component of mixed farming along with other crops
Dryland Farming
  • Adopted in scanty rainfall areas viz. < 75 cm /year
  • Draught resistance crops are grown as they require less irrigation
  • Farming of arid & semi-arid regions
  • Also known as Rain fed Farming
  • Rainwater is only source of moisture for crops
  • Minimal use of chemicals, Pesticides, fertilizers etc.
  • Contributes 40% of the food production
  • Provide support to nearly 45% of the population
Wet Land farming
  • Practiced in high rainfall and irrigated areas
Terrace Farming
  • Farming on steps cut on mountainous region
  • Mainly for prevention of soil erosion
  • Also provides easy irrigation
Extensive Agriculture
  • Farmers tries to get the greater output by bringing more and more new land areas under cultivation
  • Agriculture at large farm with extensive use of machinery
  • Yield / Area is low but Yield / Labour is high
  • Crops are grown solely for the purpose of commercial activities
Intensive Agriculture
  • Land holding is small which is intensively used by means of labour provided by family members
  • Hence, Yield / Area is high but Yield / Labour is low
Subsistence Agriculture
  • Farming in which the main production is consumed by the farmer’s household
  • For Livelihood, Small land area & Great no. of labours
Shifting Agriculture
  • Farmers clear the forestland and use it for growing crops.
  • The crops are grown for 2 to 3 years.
  • When the fertility of the soil decreases, the farmer shifts to a new land
  • Also known as Slash & Burn agriculture
  • Practised in East India, Central Africa, America
  • Intensive cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers
Dairy Farming 
  • Animals are reared for milk & main emphasis is on cattle breeding & vetenary services
  • Rearing of Milch animals is an important aspect of Dairy farming

Mediterranean Agriculture

  • Practised in Mediterranean lands surrounding Mediterranean Sea
  • Highly specialized commercial agriculture, done mainly for citrus fruits
  • Famous for Viticulture i.e. grape cultivation for wines


Market Gardening / Horticulture

  • Cultivation of high valued day to day market crops like fruits, flowers & vegetation
  • Grown on small farms which are well connected with urban markets by cheap n efficient means of transportation
  • Netherland >> Famous for flowers, especially Tulips
  • Farmers specialised in vegetables only mainly practice Truck farming with overnight market transportation


Cooperative Farming

  • Farmers voluntarily pool their resources together like land, machinery etc. to form a co-operative society.
  • Cooperative societies help farmers to procure more inputs, sell farm products at best prices & procure essentials in quantity at cheaper rates
  • For Ex. Denmark, Netherland


Collective Farming

  • State owned agriculture esp. in socialist countries like Russia
  • Farmers pool their resources together to achieve yearly targets set by gov. to sell their produce at fixed rates.
  • Excess of produce is distributed among members or are sold in the market
  • Members are also paid according to the nature of work allotted to them
India Yearbook English India Yearbook Hindi Economic Survey 2017


  1. Very Usefull content (Full at one place) & in systemetic way…

  2. very useful & informative

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