Difference between Cash Crops and Food Crops

Crops are plants that are grown and harvested by the farmer for consumption purposes or to gain profit. Cash crops and Food crops are the different kinds of crops with notable differences between them.

What are Cash Crops?

Cash crops are crops that are grown with the intention of obtaining profit by selling them. These crops can either be consumed directly or processed into other final products.

Cash crops largely contribute to the setting up of institutions that enable more commercialization. These crops not only offer employment opportunities in many communities but also helps the farmers in the generation of capital.

A few examples of cash crops are coffee, tea, cocoa, wheat, and cotton.

What are Food Crops?

Agricultural crops which are mainly grown for consumption purposes are known as food crops. Farmers here grow just what is enough to fulfill their own personal needs, so, in this kind of farming, decisions are mainly made on the basis of the family’s needs and wants.

Some food crops are tubers, fruits, legumes, vegetables, and cereals.

Differences between Cash Crops and Food Crops

The following table highlights the major differences between Cash Crops and Food Crops −

Cash Crops
Food Crops
The main purpose of growing cash crops is to generate profit.
The main purpose of growing food crops is to feed the farmers.
Method of farming
A lot of importance is given to farming if cash crops, pesticides, and fertilizers are used to increase the level of output to gain more profit.
The method of farming here is different compared to cash crops; no effort is made to increase the yields.
Market type
These crops are grown for international markets either as consumption goods or as raw materials for manufacturing industries.
These crops are grown for domestic consumption purposes only.
Crop productivity
Importance is given to crop productivity in cash crops which maximizes the yield and leads to an improvement in the level of marketability.
Crop productivity is also considered important in food crops, but no direct measures have been taken in this direction.
Many policies have been implemented to safeguard cash crop farming, like pricing and quality of food products.
Not many policies have been set up in the case of food crop farming.
Risk involved
In the case of cash crops, a lot of risk factors have to be taken into consideration, like the quality of produce, soil degradation, and price variability.
In the case of food crop farming, it does not involve as many risks; even if it does, it can be easily sustained.


Both these crops that are cash crops and food crops, have enabled the farmers to grow economically and have reduced the dependence on government and international aid; they play an important role in the transition towards sustainable agricultural practices, they are important for economic growth, and can either be sold locally or internationally. We can also see that farmers have diversified their farming techniques with an aim to cope with the risks of crop or harvest failure.

Updated on: 11-Jul-2022

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