Geography India - Agriculture


  • There are three distinct cropping seasons in the northern and interior parts of India, namely kharif, rabi, and zaid.

Cropping Season Major Crops Cultivated
Northern States Southern States
Kharif (June-September) Rice, Cotton, Bajra, Maize, Jowar, Toor Rice, Maize, Ragi, Jowar, Groundnut
Rabi (October – March) Wheat, Gram, Rapeseeds, and Mustard, Barley Rice, Maize, Ragi, Groundnut, Jowar
Zaid (April–June) Vegetables, Fruits, Fodder Rice, Vegetables, Fodder
  • Dryland farming is largely restricted to the regions having annual rainfall less than 75 cm. Major crops are ragi, bajra, moong, gram, and guar (fodder crops).

  • The regions, which have rainfall in excess of soil moisture requirement of plants during the rainy season is known as wetland farming. Major crops are rice, jute, and sugarcane.

  • The cereals occupy about 54% of total cropped area in India.

  • India produces about 11% cereals of the world and ranks 3rd in production after China and U.S.A.

  • Indian cereals are classified as fine grains (e.g. rice, wheat, etc.) and coarse grains (e.g. jowar, bajra, maize, ragi, etc.).

Types of Farming

  • On the basis of main source of moisture for crops, the farming can be classified as irrigated and rainfed.

  • On the basis of adequacy of soil moisture during cropping season, rainfed farming is further classified as dryland and wetland farming.

Major Crops

  • In southern states and West Bengal, the climatic conditions facilitate the cultivation of two or three crops of rice in an agricultural year.

  • In West Bengal farmers grow three crops of rice called ‘aus’, ‘aman,’ and ‘boro’.

Rice Field
  • India contributes more than 20% to world’s rice production and ranks 2nd after China.

  • About one-fourth of the total cropped area of India is under rice cultivation.

  • West Bengal, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh are the leading rice producing states.

  • India produces about 12% of total wheat production of the world.

  • About 85% of total area under this crop is concentrated in north and central regions of the country, i.e., the Indo-Gangetic Plain, Malwa Plateau, and the Himalayan regions especially up to 2,700 m altitude.

Major Crop area
  • About 14% of the total cropped area in the country is under wheat cultivation.

  • Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh are wheat producing states.

  • The coarse cereals together occupy about 16.50% of total cropped area in the country.

  • Maharashtra alone contributes to more than half of the total jowar production of the country.

  • Bajra occupies about 5.2% of total cropped area in the country.

  • Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Haryana are the leading Bajra producer states.

  • Maize is a food as well as fodder crop grown under the semi-arid climatic conditions and over inferior soils.

  • Maize occupies about 3.6% of the total cropped area of India.

  • Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh are the leading maize producers in the country.

  • Pulses are the legume crops, which increase the natural fertility of soils through nitrogen fixation.

  • With one-fifth of the total production of pulses in the world, India is a leading producer.

  • Pulses occupy about 11% of the total cropped area in the country.

  • The cultivation of pulses in the country is largely concentrated in the drylands of Deccan and central plateaus and northwestern parts.

  • Gram and Toor are the main pulses cultivated in India.

  • Gram covers only about 2.8% of the total cropped area in the country.

  • Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Rajasthan are the main producers of gram.

  • Toor (Arhar) is also known as red gram or pigeon pea.

  • Toor occupies only about 2% of total cropped area of India.

  • Maharashtra alone contributes to about one-third of the total production of toor.

  • Groundnut, rapeseed and mustard, soyabean, and sunflower are the main oilseed crops grown in India.

  • Oilseeds occupy about 14% of total cropped area in the country.

  • Drylands of Malwa plateau, Marathwada, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana, Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka plateau are the major oilseeds growing regions of India.

  • India produces about 18.8% of the total groundnut production in the world.

  • Groundnut covers about 3.6% of total cropped area in the country.

  • Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra are the leading groundnut producer states in India.

  • Rapeseed and mustard comprise several oilseeds such as rai, sarson, toria, and taramira.

  • Rapeseed and mustard oilseeds together occupy only 2.5% of total cropped area in the country.

  • Rajasthan alone contributes to about one-third production (of oilseeds) while Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh other leading producers.

  • Sunflower cultivation is concentrated in the regions of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and adjoining areas of Maharashtra.

  • India grows both the short staple (Indian) cotton as well as the long staple (American) cotton called narma in north-western parts of the country.

  • India accounts to about 8.3% of world’s total production of cotton.

  • India ranks $4^{th}$ in the world for production of cotton after China, U.S.A., and Pakistan.

  • Cotton occupies about 4.7% of total cropped area in the country.

  • The major cotton growing areas in India are parts of Punjab, Haryana, and northern Rajasthan in the north-west; Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west; and plateaus of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu in the south.

  • Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana are the leading cotton producing states.

  • India produces about three-fifth of the total jute production of the world.

  • West Bengal contributes about three-fourth of the total production of jute in the country.

  • India is the second largest producer of sugarcane after Brazil.

  • Sugarcane occupies 2.4% of total cropped area in the country and contributes about 23% to the world’s production of sugarcane.

  • Uttar Pradesh produces about two-fifth of sugarcane of the country; other leading producers are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.

  • Tea is a plantation crop and used as a major beverage in India.

  • Black tea leaves are fermented whereas green tea leaves are not fermented.

  • Tea leaves have rich content of caffeine and tannin.

  • Tea is grown over the undulating topography of hilly areas and well drained soils in humid and sub-humid tropics and sub-tropics.

  • In India, tea plantation started in 1840s in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam, which still is a major tea growing area in the country.

Tea plantation
  • With 28% of the world’s total production, India is a leading producer of tea.

  • India ranks third among tea exporting countries in the world after Sri Lanka and China.

  • Assam accounts for about 53.2% of the total cropped area and contributes more than half of total production of tea in the country; West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu are the other leading tea producers.

  • There are three varieties of coffeearabica, robusta, and liberica.

  • India generally grows superior quality of coffee i.e. arabica, which is in great demand in the International market

  • India produces only about 3.2% coffee of world’s total production and ranks 7th after Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Mexico.

  • Coffee in India is cultivated in the highlands of the Western Ghats in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

Coffee Plantation
  • Karnataka alone contributes more than two-third to the total production of coffee in India.

  • New seed varieties of wheat (from Mexico) and rice (from Philippines) known as high yielding varieties (HYVs) were introduced during mid-1960s in India (Green Revolution).

Agricultural Problems

  • About 57% of the land is covered by crop cultivation in India; however, in the world, the corresponding share is only about 12%.

  • On the other hand, the land-human ratio in the country is only 0.31 ha, which is almost half of that of the world as a whole i.e. 0.59 ha.

  • However, major problems of the Indian agriculture system are −

    • Dependence on erratic monsoon;

    • Low productivity;

    • Constraints of financial resources and indebtedness;

    • Lack of proper land reforms;

    • Small farm size and fragmentation of landholdings;

    • Lack of commercialization; under-employment; and

    • Degradation of cultivable land.

  • Further, lack of development of rural infrastructure, withdrawal of subsidies and price support, and impediments in availing of the rural credits may lead to interregional and inter-personal disparities in rural areas.

  • Intensive Agricultural District Program (IADP) and Intensive Agricultural Area Program (IAAP) were launched to overcome the agricultural problems in India.

  • Planning Commission of India initiated agro-climatic planning in 1988 to induce regionally balanced agricultural development in the country.