Food Production

Category : UPSC







All living organisms require food for survival. Food is the basic need for existence of life on earth. Our country is over-populated and supports around one billion people. Therefore, in order to feed such a large population, we need to produce several million tons of grains every year along with higher requirement of milk, eggs and meat. Therefore, we need to increase production of both plant and animal products. The only possibility is to increase production efficiency of both plants and animals. We can increase the production by the development and use of improved varieties with high yield and better agricultural practices.


Agriculture revolution


Green revolution


White revolution


Blue revolution


Grey revolution


Red revolution


Golden revolution


Pink revolution

Prawn/Onion/pharm-ceutical (India)

Silver revolution

Eggs and Chicken

Round revolution


Yellow revolution

Oil seeds



The term “agriculture” is derived from two Latin words: Ager-field and cultra-cultivation. Thus, agriculture is the branch of science that deals with the mass production of plants and animals useful to human beings. It involves study of:



Crop is a plant grown in the fields on a large scale to obtain food. For example, if all the plants of rice are grown in the field, then it is called a rice crop. Similarly, if all the plants of wheat are grown, then it is called a wheat crop. Crops are cultivated by humans for food, fodder and other materials. Let us discuss some important types of crops:


Classification of crops on the basis of season






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The crops which are grown in the rainy season (or kharif season) are known as Kharif crops. These crops are cultivated between the months of June and October. Examples of kharif crops include paddy, maize, cotton, green gram, Soya bean, pigeon pea, and black gram.

The crops which are grown in the winter season (or Rabi season) are known as Rabi crops. These crops are cultivated between the months of November and April. Examples of Rabi crops include wheat, barley, gram, peas, mustard, and linseed.

The crops which are grown in summer season. The are cultivated between March to June.ex-water-melon, cucumber, gourd, etc.



The yield of a crop can be increased by adopting a number of improved agricultural activities, which includes three scientific approaches:- Crop variety improvement, Crop production improvement and Crop protection management


Crop Variety Improvement Methods

The high yield from the crops is directly related with the inputs and the agricultural practices which the farmers adopt. Higher the inputs, more is the yield.

The various aspects for which crop variety improvement is carried out are as follows:

(i) To obtain higher yield of crop

(ii) To enhance the desirable quality of food items.

(iii) To produce crop variety that is resistant to biotic and abiotic factors.

(iv) To change the maturity duration of crop.

(v) To induce desirable agronomic traits.

(vi) To develop plant varieties with wider adaptability.




Food items





Kasturi, Jaya, Padma, IR-8, Ponne, Pusa Basmati rice - 1509, Casalath



Sharbati Sonora, Sonalika, Kalyan Sona, Hira Moti, Pusa Lerma



Vikram, Navjot, Shakti, Ganga 101, Deccan hybrid


Pigeon pea

Pusa 84, Manak


Chick pea

Pusa 240, Pant 114

Oil seeds


Arun, Pusa



Kranti, Pusa Bold


Lady Finger

Pusa Savani



Pusa Purple, Pusa Kranti



Nutrient Management

The plants absorb the nutrients and inorganic raw materials from their surroundings and utilize the same building up their organic matter. The main sources of nutrients for plants are air, soil and water. In total, there are sixteen nutrients required by plants.


  • Out of these, two nutrients (Carbon and Oxygen) are obtained from air.
  • Hydrogen is obtained from water.
  • These three elements - Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen are called non-essential elements as they are not obtained from soil.
  • The remaining thirteen nutrients are obtained from soil with the help of roots. They are called mineral nutrients or essential nutrients.
  • Micronutrients: Nutrients required in small quantities are called micronutrients. (Ph, Mg, K, N, Ca, S)
  • Macronutrients: Nutrients required in larger quantities are called macronutrients. Nutrients are essential elements, which are used by plants in large quantities.(Mo, Mn, Cl, Cu, B, Zn, Fe)



Manure is a natural fertilizer. It is prepared by the decomposition of plant and animal waste.


Composition of manure

  • Manure is a source of many plant nutrients.
  • It is composed of organic matter and minerals. Ammonia, nitrate, organic substances, etc. are predominant organic matters found in manures.
  • These are mostly composed of micronutrients such as zinc, manganese, copper, magnesium, sodium, etc.


Advantages of manure

  • It enriches the soil with organic material called humus to the soil.
    • It increases the water holding capacity of soil.
  • It aerates the soil by making it porous.
  • It helps in growth of micro-organisms. The organic matter of manures provides food for the soil organisms which help in making nutrients available to plants.
  • It improves the soil texture.
  • It increases the crop production.


Disadvantages of manure

  • Manures are bulky with low nutrient content.
  • They are inconvenient to handle, store and transport.
  • Manures are not nutrient specific. Hence, it is not much useful when a particular nutrient is required in the soil for a particular crop.
  • The nutrients of manures are released slowly, not keeping pace with high and rapid demand of nutrients by crops.



Fertilizers are plant nutrients, which are commercially available. They can be organic or inorganic in nature. They ensure healthy growth and development in plants by providing them with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc.


Advantages of fertilizers

  • They are mostly inorganic compounds, which can readily dissolve in water. They are easily available for plants.
  • They are a good source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. However, they are good only for a short term use.
    • They are nutrient specific.
  • They are compact, easy to store and transport.
    • They are required in very small amount.


Disadvantages of fertilizers

  • They get washed away because of irrigation. Hence, they are a cause of water pollution.
  • Continuous use of fertilizers causes harm to useful or symbiotic micro-organisms living in soil.
  • They can also result in the reduction of soil fertility.
    • They cannot replenish the organic matter of soil.
    • They are quite expensive.
  • They have only short term benefits
  • Therefore, to get an optimum yield, it is necessary to use a balanced combination of manures and fertilizers.


Organic Farming

Organic farming is the practice of raising unpolluted crops through limited use of chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, genetically-modified organisms, etc. Sometimes they are not used at all.


Advantages of organic farming

  • It does not cause pollution of crop plants, soil, air and water.
  • It helps in recycling of waste materials.
  • The food obtained from organic farming is free from pesticides and chemicals.
    • It maintains the health of soil.
    • It keeps insects, pests and weeds under check.



The process of supplying water to crops in the fields is called irrigation. The various sources of irrigation are wells, canals, rivers, dams, ponds and lakes.


Importance of irrigation

(i)         It makes the soil soft due to which ploughing becomes easier.

(ii)         It provides moisture for germination of seeds as seeds do not germinate in dry soils.

(iii)        Irrigation water helps in absorption of nutrient elements by plants from soil. The water dissolves the nutrient present in the soil to form a solution, which is then absorbed by the roots for the development of plants.

(iv)        Irrigation is essential for the growth and elongation of the roots of the crop plants as roots of crop plants fail to develop and elongate in dry soil.


Irrigation systems

There are number of irrigation systems in India depending on the availability of water resources and the requirement of water by crops. The various sources of irrigation are wells, canals, rivers, dams, ponds and lakes.

Based on wafer resources, the various irrigation systems are as follows:

  • Tanks: Tanks are small storage reservoirs, which catch and store the runoff of smaller catchment areas. Small dams are built below the higher elevation of catchment areas. The outflows are regulated according to the water availability.
  • Canal system: In this system, human made canals receive water from rivers, storage lakes, dams etc. Main canal passes into branch canal, which in turn divide into distributaries. The distributaries ultimately supply water to the individual fields or group of fields. Each field or group of fields is given water by rotation.
  • Wells: Wells are shafts sunk into ground that reaches water table and are used to draw water.
  • River lift system: In this system, water is directly drawn from the rivers for supplementing irrigation in the areas near to rivers. This type of system is more useful in areas where canal flow is insufficient or irregular due to inadequate water release.
  • River valley system: In riverine valleys with heavy rains, the slopes and valleys remain wet for long duration to grow perennial crops like coconut, rubber and tapioca.
  • Drip system: In this method, water is delivered at or near the roots of plant drop by drop. Water is passed through plastic pipes that have holes in it. These plastic pipes are then laid along the rows of crops. It is the most efficient method of irrigation as there is no wastage of water at all.
  • Sprinkler system: This system supplies water to plants in the form of rain. The water is supplied using pipes to one or more central locations within the field. When water is allowed to flow under high pressure with the help of pump, it gets sprinkled on the crops.


Cropping Patterns

Cropping patterns are models of raising crops which help in obtaining maximum benefit from a single piece of land.

The common types of cropping patterns are:

Crop rotation: The practice of growing two or more varieties of crops on the same field in a sequential season is known as crop rotation.


Advantages of crop rotation:

(i)         It improves the fertility of soil and hence brings about an increase in food production.

(ii)         It helps in weed control.

(iii)        It protects crop from diseases.

(iv)        It reduces the dependence on fertilizers.

(v)        It results in optimum utilization of nutrients as different crops obtain nutrients from different layers of soil.


Multiple cropping: Multiple cropping is the growing of two or more crops one after another in the same field. It is of two types:


Mixed cropping: It is the technique of growing two or more different crops simultaneously on the same field. The farmers mix the seeds of two crops and sow in the field. It is like an insurance against crop failure due to abnormal weather conditions and attack of pests and pathogens.

For example:

(i)         Maize + Urad bean

(ii)         Soyabean + Pigeon pea

(iii)        Wheat + Chick pea

(iv)        Wheat + Mustard

(v)        Barley + Gram


Advantages of Mixed Cropping

  • It reduces the risk of total crop failure.
  • It tends to harvest variety of produce such as pulses, cereals, vegetables etc.
  • It improves the fertility of soil and reduces the requirement of fertilizers.
    • It helps in optimum utilization of the soil.
    • It reduces the chances of pest infestation.
  • It enhances the optimum utilization of nutrients as they are absorbed from different layers of the soil.


Disadvantages of Mixed Cropping

  • The seeds of two crops are mixed and there is no set pattern of rows of crops. As a result, harvesting and threshing of crops separately is not easy.
  • Farmers face difficulty in spraying pesticides and applying fertilizers to individual crops.
    • Inter cropping: It the practice of growing two or more crops simultaneously in a same field in a definite row patterns. This technique enhances the productivity per unit area. The crops selected have different nutrient requirements, different sowing and harvesting dates.

For example:

  1. Soyabean + Maize
  2. Bajra + Lobia

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