Syllabus section: Economy/ Agriculture
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 material for various industries. India’s agriculture and allied sector contributing to around three-fourths of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing employment to more than four-fifths of the population.
Agriculture is decided by the soil types and climatic parameters in India. These two major parameters determine the overall agro-ecological setting for nourishment and appropriateness of the crops for cultivation. The three distinct crop seasons in India are:
(1) Kharif Season: Kharif crops are grown with the onset of monsoon in different parts of the country. These are also known as monsoon crops. These are harvested in September-October. Important crops of this season are paddy, maize, jowar, bajra, tur (arhar), moong, urad, cotton, jute, groundnut and soyabean.
(2) Rabi Season: Rabi crops are sown in winter from October to December and harvested in summer from April to June. Some of the important Rabi crops are wheat, barley, peas, gram and mustard.
(3) Zaid Season: In between the rabi and the Kharif seasons, there is a short season during the summer months known as the Zaid season. Some of the crops produced during ‘Zaid’ are watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber vegetables and fodder crops.
The broader classification of the agricultural crops on the basis of their economical use is described as under:
• Cereal crops: Rice, wheat, maize, sorghum.
• Pulse crops: Pigeon pea, urdbean, moonbeam, kidney bean, cowpea, chickpea, lentil, pea, etc.
• Oilseed crops: Soybean, rapeseed & mustard, groundnut, sunflower, sesame, safflower, etc.
• Fodder crops: Berseem, red clover, Lucerne, etc.
• Fibre crops: Cotton, jute, Mesta, etc.
• Commercial crops: Sugarcane, tea, coffee, etc
Major Crops and Their producing Regions
• Our country is the second largest producer of rice in the world after China.
• It requires high temperature, (above 25°C) and high humidity with annual rainfall above 100 cm.
• In the areas of less rainfall, it grows with the help of irrigation.
• Rice is grown in the plains of north and north-eastern India, coastal areas and the deltaic regions.
• This is the second most important cereal crop.
• It is the main food crop, in north and north-western part of the country.
• This rabi crop requires a cool growing season and a bright sunshine at the time of ripening.
• It requires 50 to 75 cm of annual rainfall evenly distributed over the growing season.
• There are two important wheat-growing zones in the country – the Ganga-Satluj plains in the northwest and black soil region of the Deccan.
• Though, these are known as coarse grains, they have very high nutritional value.
• Jowar, bajra and ragi are the important millets grown in India.
• They provide food and fodder both.
Jowar is the third most important food crop with respect to area and production.
It is a rain-fed crop mostly grown in the moist areas which hardly needs irrigation. It requires more than 30cm rainfall during growing period and cannot grow if rainfall exceeds 100cm.
Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are important Jowar producing states.
Bajra grows well on sandy soils and shallow black soil.
Bajra grows well in dry and warm climate conditions and it’s drought tolerant crop which requires low annual rainfall ranging between 40 cm to 60 cm. Ideal temperature for bajra cultivation is between 20â to 30â.
Top Bajra producing states are Rajasthan followed by Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Top high yielding state is Tamil Nadu.
Ragi grows well on red, black, sandy, loamy and shallow black soils.
Finger millet is a crop of tropical and subtropical climate and can be cultivated up to an altitude of 2100 meters.
It is heat loving plant and for its germination, the minimum temperature required is 8-10â. A mean temperature range of 26-29â during the growth is the best for proper development and good crop yield.
Top producers are Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu.
• It is a crop which is used as both food and fodder.
• It is a Kharif crop (in some states it is grown in rabi season e.g. Bihar) which requires temperature between 21°C to 27°C and grows well in old alluvial soil.
• Major maize-producing states are Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.
• India is the largest producer as well as the consumer of pulses in the world.
• These are the major source of protein in a vegetarian diet.
• Major pulses that are grown in India are tur (arhar), urad, moong, masur, peas and gram.