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. thankyou very much to share the knowledge.

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

  3. very useful & informative

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