Agriculture in India: Types of Farming and Cropping Pattern-I - Frontier IAS
Baljit Dhaka
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Agriculture in India: Types of Farming and Cropping Pattern- I

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Agriculture in India: Types of Farming and Cropping Pattern Part-I

Geography for Civil Services

India is an agriculturally important country. Two-thirds of its population is engaged in agricultural activities. Agriculture is a primary activity, which produces most of the food that we consume. Besides food grains, it also produces raw materials for various industries. Let's get start...

Agriculture: An Introduction

Agriculture is the science and art of cultivation on the soil, raising crops, and rearing livestock. It is also called farming. 

  • It includes growing crops, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and rearing of livestock. 
  • The important inputs needed are seeds, fertilizers, machinery and labour, ploughing, sowing, irrigation, weeding, and harvesting.

Importance of agriculture in India:

  • India is an agriculturally important country.
  • Two-thirds of its population is engaged in agricultural activities.
  • Agriculture is a primary activity, which produces most of the food that we consume. 
  • Besides food grains, agriculture also produces raw materials for various industries.

Types of farming:

1.Subsistence Farming

i. Primitive Subsistence Farming

ii. Intensive Subsistence Farming

2. Commercial Farming

i. Primitive Subsistence Farming:

  • Practiced on small patches of land with the help of primitive tools like hoe, digging sticks, and family/ community labour.
  • Depends upon monsoon, natural fertility of the soil, and suitability of other environmental conditions.
  • It is a ‘slash and burn’ agriculture.
  • A patch of land is cleared to produce cereals and other food crops to sustain one’s family.
  • once the fertility decreases, a fresh patch of land is cleared for cultivation allowing nature to replenish the fertility of the soil.

  • Low land productivity as no use of fertilizers or other modern inputs. 
  • It is known by different names in different parts of the country.
  • Jhumming-northeastern states (Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland)
  • Pamlou-- Manipur
  • Dipa --Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, and  Andaman and the Nicobar Islands.
  • Bewar/Dahiya-- Madhya Pradesh, 
  • Podu/Penda--Andhra Pradesh,
  • Pama Dabi/Koman/Bringa-- Odisha

  • Kumari--Western Ghats
  • Valre/Waltre--South-eastern Rajasthan,
  • Khil--Himalayan belt
  • Kuruwa-- Jharkhand

In other areas of the world Slash and burn agriculture is known as:

  • Milpa-- Mexico and Central America
  • Conuco-- Venezuela,
  • Roca--Brazil 
  • Masole--Central Africa,
  • Ladang--Indonesia,
  • Ray--Vietnam

ii. Intensive Subsistence Farming:

  • Practiced in areas of high population pressure on land. 
  • It is labor-intensive farming, where high doses of biochemical inputs and irrigation are used for obtaining higher production.
  • prevalent in the thickly populated areas of the monsoon regions of the south, southeast, and east Asia.

2. Commercial Farming:

  • The main feature is the use of higher doses of modern inputs, like high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides in order to obtain higher productivity.
  • Crops are grown and animals are reared for sale. 
  • The area cultivated and the amount of capital used is large. 
  • The Commercial nature of crops varies from one region to another. (Rice is a commercial crop in Haryana and Punjab, but  a subsistence crop in Odisha)
  • Commercial farming includes commercial grain farming, mixed farming, and plantation agriculture.

i. Commercial grain farming :

  • Crops are grown for commercial purposes. (Wheat and maize)
  • The main areas where commercial grain farming is practiced are temperate grasslands of North America, Europe, and Asia. 

ii. Mixed farming:

  • The land is used for growing food and fodder crops and rearing livestock together.
  • It is practiced in Europe, the eastern USA, Argentina, southeast Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

iii. Plantation Agriculture:

  • A single crop of tea, coffee, sugarcane, cashew, rubber, banana, or cotton is grown on a large area. 
  • The plantation has an interface of agriculture and industry.

  • Plantations cover large tracts of land, using capital intensive inputs, with the help of migrant labourers.
  • The produce may be processed on the farm itself or in nearby factories.
  • The development of a transport network is thus essential for such farming.
  • Major plantations are found in the tropical regions of the world.
  • Examples: Rubber in Malaysia, coffee in Brazil, tea, coffee, rubber, sugarcane, banana, etc in India and Sri Lanka.

Cropping seasons in India:

  • There are three distinct crop seasons -Rabi, Kharif, and zaid in the northern and interior parts of the country
  • But this distinction in the cropping season does not exist in southern parts of the country.
  • Reason: High temp. is enough to grow tropical crops during any period in the year provided the soil moisture is available.
  • Therefore, in this region same crops can be grown thrice in an agricultural year provided there is sufficient soil moisture.

1. Rabi season:

  • Sowing time: from October to December 
  • Harvesting time: from April to June.
  • Crops are grown: wheat, barley, peas, gram, and mustard.
  • Producing states: Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.

Factors responsible:

  • Availability of precipitation during winter months (western temperate cyclones) 
  • green revolution in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Rajasthan.

2. Kharif Crop:

  • Sowing time: July (with the onset of monsoon) 
  • Harvesting time: September-October.
  • Crops are grown: paddy, maize, jowar, bajra, tur, moong, urad, cotton, jute, groundnut and soyabean.
  • Producing states: rice-growing regions (Assam, West Bengal, coastal Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra, along with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar).
  • In Assam, West Bengal and Odisha,three crops of paddy (Aus, Aman and Boro) are grown in a year.

3. Zaid Crop:

  • Sowing and harvesting time: In between the rabi and the Kharif seasons
  • Crops are grown: watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber, vegetables, and fodder crops. 

Crop Classification:

i. Crop Classification based on the type of produce:

  • Food Crops: Rice, wheat, maize, millets pulses, cereals 
  • Cash Crops: Cotton, jute, sugarcane, tobacco, oilseeds, groundnut, linseed, sesamum, castor seed, rapeseed, mustard, etc. 
  • Plantation Crops: Tea, coffee, coconut, areca nut, rubber, and spices (cardamom, chilies, ginger, turmeric)
  • Horticulture Vegetables: Onion, tomato, etc; and fruits — Apple, Orange, Mango, banana, citrus fruits, etc. 

ii. Crop Classification based on climate:

  • Tropical climate crop- Crops grow well in warm & hot climates E.g. Rice, sugarcane, Jowar, etc. 
  • Temperate Climate crop- Crops grow well in cool climate E.g. Wheat, Oats, Gram, Potato, Apple, etc.

iii. Classification Based on the growing season

  • Kharif/Rainy/Monsoon crops: Cotton, Rice, Jowar, Bajra, etc.
  • Rabi/winter/cold seasons crops: Wheat, gram, sunflower, etc.
  • Summer/Zaid crops: Groundnuts, Watermelon, Pumpkins, Gourds, etc.

iv. Classification based on the life of crops/duration of crops:

  • Seasonal crops: A crop completes its life cycle in one season i.e. 3-4 months (rice, Jowar, wheat)
  • Two seasonal crops: Crops complete its life cycle in two seasons i.e.6-8 months (Cotton, turmeric, ginger)
  • Annual crops: Crops require one full year to complete its life cycle(sugarcane)
  • Biennial crops: Crops requires two years to complete its life cycle (Banana, Papaya)
  • Perennial crops: crops live for several years. (Fruit crops, mango, guava )
  • Classification based on water availability:
  • Rainfed: Cultivation of crops mainly based on the availability of rainwater. (Jowar, Bajra, Moong )
  • Irrigated crops: Crops cultivated with the help of irrigation water. (Chili, sugarcane, Banana, papaya).