NCERT Summary - Land Use and Agriculture

Category : UPSC

 Land Use and Agriculture


Different types of lands are suited to different uses. Human beings thus/ use land as a resource for production as well as residence and recreation.


Land-use records maintained by land revenue department. The land use categories add up to reporting area, which is somewhat different from the geographical area. The Survey of India is responsible for measuring geographical area of administrative units in India. The difference between the two concepts are that while the former changes somewhat depending on the estimates of the land revenue records/ the latter does not change and stays fixed as per Survey of India measurements.

The land-use categories as maintained in the Land Revenue are as follows:

            (i)         Forests: It is important to note that area under actual forest cover is different from area classified as forest. The latter is the area which the Government has identified and demarcated for forest growth. The land revenue records are consistent with the latter definition. Thus/ there may be an increase in this category without any increase in the actual forest cover.

            (ii)         Land put to Non-agricultural Uses: Land under settlements (rural and urban)/ infrastructure (roads, canals, etc.), industries, shops, etc. are included in this category. An expansion in the secondary and tertiary activities would lead to an increase in this category of land-use.

(iii)        Barren and Wastelands: The land which may be classified as a wasteland such as barren hilly terrains, desert lands, ravines, etc. normally cannot be brought under cultivation with the available technology.

            (iv)        Area under Permanent pastures and Grazing Lands: Most of this type land is owned by the village 'Panchayat' or the Government. Only a small proportion of this land is privately owned. The land owned by the village panchayat comes under   'Common   Property Resources'.

            (v)        Area under Miscellaneous Tree Crops and Goves (Not included is Net sown Area): The land under orchards and fruit trees are included in this category. Much of this land is privately owned.

            (vi)        Culturable Waste-Land: Any land which is left fallow.(uncultivated) for more than five years is included in secondly, since even the reporting area has been relatively constant over the years, a decline in one category usually leads to an this category. It can be brought Si under cultivation after improving it b through reclamation practices,      

(vii)       Current Fallow: This is the land which is left without cultivation for one or less than one agricultural year, Fallowing is a, cultural practice adopted for giving the land rest. The: land recoups the lost fertility through natural processes.

            (viii)      Fallow other than Current Fallow: This is also a cultivable land which is left uncultivated for more than five years/ it would be categorized as culturable wasteland. 

            (ix)        Net Area Sown: The physical extent of land on which crops are sown and harvested is known as net sown area.


Land-use Changes in India


Land-use in a region, to a large extent, is influenced by the nature of economic activities carried out in the region. However, while economic activities change over time, land, like many other natural resources, fixed in terms of its area. At this stage, one needs to appreciate three types of changes that an economy undergoes, which affect land-use.

India has undergone major change' within the economy over the past four or five decades, and this has influenced the land-use changes in the country. These change between 1960-61 and 2002-03 have been: shown in Fig. There are two points that you need to remember before you derive some meaning from this figure. Firstly, the percentage shown in the figure have been derived with respect to the reporting are increase in some other category.


Three categories have undergone increases, while four have registered declines. Share of area under forest, are under nonagricultural uses and current fallow lands have shown an increase. The following observations can be made about these increases:

  1. The rate of increase is the highest in case of area under non-agricultural uses. This is due to the changing structure of Indian economy, which is increasingly depending on the contribution from industrial and services sectors and expansion of related infrastructural facilities. Also, an expansion of area under both urban and rural settlements has added to the increase. Thus, the area under non-agricultural uses is increasing at the expense of wastelands and agricultural land.
  2. The increase in the share under. Forest, as explained before, can be accounted for by increase in the demarcated area under forest rather than an actual increase in the forest cover in the country.
  3. The increase in the current fallow cannot be explained from information pertaining to only two points. The trend of current fallow fluctuates a great deal over years, depending on the variability of rainfall and cropping cycles.


The four categories that have registered a decline are barren and wasteland, culturable wasteland, area under pastures and tree crops and net area sown.

The following explanations can be given for the declining trends:

(i)         As the pressure on land increased, both from the agricultural and nonagricultural sectors, the wastelands   and   culturable wastelands have witnessed decline over time.

(ii)         The decline in net area sown is a recent phenomenon that started in the late nineties, before which it was registering a slow increase. There are indications that most of the decline has occurred due to the increases in area under nonagricultural use. (Note: the expansion of building activity on agricultural land in your; village and city).

(iii)        The decline in land under pastures and grazing lands can be explained by pressure from agricultural land. Illegal encroachment due to expansion of cultivation on common pasture lands is largely responsible for this decline.


Agricultural Land Use in India

Land resource is more crucial to the livelihood of the people depending on agriculture:

(i)         Agriculture is a purely land based activity unlike secondary and tertiary activities. In other words, contribution of land in agricultural output is more compared to its contribution in the outputs in the other sectors. Thus, lack of access to land is directly correlated with incidence of poverty in rural areas.

(ii)         Quality of land has a direct bearing on the productivity of agriculture, which is not true for other activities.

(iii)        In rural areas, aside from its value as a productive factor, land ownership has a social value and serves as a security for credit, natural hazards or life contingencies, and also adds to the social status.


An estimation of the total stock of agricultural land resources (i.e. total cultivable land can be arrived at by adding up net sown area, all fallow lands and culturable wasteland. It may be observed from Table that over the years, there has been a marginal decline in the available total stock of cultivable land as a percentage to total reporting area. There has been a greater decline of cultivated land, in spite of a corresponding decline of cultivable wasteland.


Agricultural land-Use

As a percentage of Reporting Area

As a percentage to total Cultivated land






Culturable Wasteland





Fallow other than current fallow





Current fallow





Net Area Sown





Total Cultivable Land






Cropping Seasons in India: There are three distinct crop seasons in the northern and interior parts of country, namely kharif, rabi and zaid. The kharif season largely coincides with Southwest Monsoon under which the cultivation of tropical crops such as rice, cotton, jute, jowar, bajra and tur is possible. The rabi season begin with the onset of winter in October-November and ends in March-April. The low temperature conditions during this season facilitate the cultivation of temperate and subtropical crops such as wheat, gram and mustard. Zaid is a short duration summer cropping season beginning after harvesting of rabi crops. The cultivation of watermelons, cucumbers, vegetables and fodder crops during this season is done on irrigated lands. However, this type of distinction in the cropping season does not exist in southern parts of the country. Here, the temperature is high 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.


Primitive Subsistence Farming

Based upon the characteristics of physical environment technology and sociocultural practices following farming system can be identified.


This type of farming is still practiced in few pockets of India. Primitive subsistence agriculture is practiced on small patches of land with the help of primitive tools like hoe dao and digging sticks, and family community labour. This type of farming depends upon monsoon, natural fertility o the soil and suitability of other environment conditions to the crops grown.


It is a 'slash and burn' agriculture. Farmers clear a patch of land and produce: cereals and other food crops to sustain their family. When the soil fertility decreases, the farmers shift and clear a fresh patch of land for cultivation. This type of shifting allows Nature to replenish the fertility of the soil through natural processes; land productivity in this type of agriculture is low as the farmer does not use fertilizers or other modern inputs. It is known by different names in different parts of the country. It is jhumming in north-eastern states like Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland; Pamlou in Manipur, Dipa in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, and in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


Jhumming: The 'slash and burn agriculture is known as 'Milpa' in Mexico and Central America, 'Conuco' in Venzuela, 'Roca' in Brazil, 'Masole' in Central Africa, 'Ladang' in Indonesia, 'Ray' in Vietnam.


In India, this primitive form of cultivation is called 'Betwar' or 'Dahiya' in Madhya Pradesh, 'Podu' or 'Penda' in , Andhra Pradesh, 'Pama Dabi' or 'Koman' or 'Bring' in Orissa, 'Kumari' in Western Ghats, 'Vaire' in South-Eastern Rajasthan, 'Khil' in the Himalayan belt, 'Kuruwa' in Jharkhand, and 'Jhumming' in the North-Eastern region. ;


Intensive Substance Farming         

This type of farming is practiced in areas of high population pressure on land. It is labour intensive farming, where high doses of biochemical inputs and irrigation are used for obtaining higher production.


Though the 'right of inheritance' leading to the divion of land among successive generations has rendered land-holding size uneconomical, the farmers continue to take maximum output from the limited land in the absence of alternative source of livelihood. Thus, there is enormous pressure on agricultural land.


Commercial Farming

The main characteristic of this type of farming is the use of higher doses of modem inputs, e.g. high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides in order to obtain higher productivity.    The    degree    of commercialization of agriculture varies from one region to another. For example, rice is a commercial crop in Haryana and Punjab, but in Orissa, it is a subsistence crop. Plantation is also a type of commercial farming. In this type of farming, a single crop 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 laboures. All the produce is used as raw material in respective industries.


Types of Farming

On the basis of main source of moisture for crops, the farming can be classified as irrigated and rainfed (barani). There is difference in the nature of irrigated farming as well based on objective of irrigation, i.e. protective or productive. The objective of protective irrigation is to protect the crops from adverse of soil moisture deficiency which often means that irrigation acts as a supplementary source of water over and above the rainfall. The strategy of this kind of irrigation is to provide soil moisture to maximum possible area. Productive irrigation is meant to provide sufficient soil moisture the cropping season to achieve high productivity. In such irrigation the water input per unit area of cultivated land is higher than protective irrigation. Rainfed farming is further classified on the basis of adequacy of soil moisture during cropping season into dry land and wetland farming. In India, the dry land farming is largely confined to the regions having annual rainfall less than 75 cm. These regions grow hardy and drought resistant crops such as ragi, bajra, moong, gram and guar (fodder crops) and practice various measures of soil moisture conservation and rain water harvesting. In wetland farming, the rainfall is in excess of soil moisture requirement of plants during rainy season. Such regions may face flood and soil erosion hazards. These areas grow various water intensive crops such as rice, jute and sugarcane and practice aquaculture in the fresh water bodies.


Cropping Pattern

Food grains: The importance of food grains in Indian agricultural economy may be gauged from the fact these crops occupy about two-third of total cropped area in the country. Food grains are dominant crops in all parts of the country whether they have subsistence or commercial agricultural economy. On the basis of the structure of grain the food grains are classified as cereals and pulses.


Cereals: The cereals occupy about 54 per cent of total cropped area in India. The country produces about 11 per cent cereals of the world and ranks third in production after China and U.S.A. India produces a variety of cereals, which are classified as fine grains (rice, wheat) and coarse grains (jowar, maize, ragi) etc. Account of important cereals has been given in the following paragraphs.


Rice: Rice is a staple food for the overwhelming majority of population in India. Though/ it is considered to be a crop of tropical humid areas, it has about 3,000 varieties which are grown in different agro- climatic regions. These are successfully grown from sea level to about 2,000 m altitude and from humid areas in eastern India to dry but irrigated areas of Punjab, Haryana, western U.P. and northern Rajasthan. In southern states and West Bengal the climatic conditions allow 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'. But in Himalayas and northwestern parts of the country, it is grown as a Kharif crop during southwest Monsoon season.


India contributes 22 per cent of rice production in the world and ranks second after China. About one-fourth of the total cropped area in the country is under rice cultivation. West Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were five leading rice producing states in the country in 2002-03. The yield level of rice is high in Punjab, Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Kerala. In the first four of these states almost the entire land under rice cultivation is irrigated. Punjab and Haryana are not traditional rice growing areas. Rice cultivation in the irrigated areas of Punjab and Haryana was introduced in 1970s following the Green Revolution. Generally improved varieties of seed, relatively high usage of fertilizers and pesticides and lower levels of susceptibility of the crop to pests due to dry climatic conditions are responsible for higher yield of rice in this region. The yield of this crop is very low in rainfed area; of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa


Wheat: Wheat is the second most important cereal crop in India after rice. India produces about 12 per cent of total wheat production of world. It is primarily a crop of temperate zone. Hence, its cultivation in India is done during winter i.e. rabi season. About 85 per cent of total area under this crop is concentrated in north and central regions of the country i.e. Indo-Gangetic Plain, Malwa Plateau and Himalayas up to 2,700 m altitude. Being a rabi crop, it is mostly grown under irrigated conditions. But it is rainfed crop in Himalayan highlands and parts of Malwa plateau in Madhya Pradesh. About 14 per, cent of the total cropped area in the country is under wheat cultivation. Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are five leading wheat producing states. The yield level of wheat is very high (above 4,000 k.g. per ha) in Punjab and Haryana whereas, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan; and Bihar have moderate yields. The states like Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir growing wheat under rainfed conditions have low yield.


Jowar: The coarse cereals together; occupy about 16.50 per cent of total cropped area in the country. Among these, jowar or sorghum alone accounts for about 5.3 per cent of total cropped area. It is main food crop in; semi-arid areas of central and southern India; Maharashtra alone produces more than half of the total jowar production of the country. Other leading producer states of jowar are Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. It is sown in both Kharif and raw seasons in southern states. But it is a Kharif crop in northern India where it is mostly, grown as a fodder crop. South of Vindhyachal it is a rainfed crop and its yield level is very low in this region.                     


Bajra: Bajra is sown in hot and dry climatic conditions in northwestern and western parts of the country. It is a hardy crop which resists frequent dry spells and drought in this region. It is cultivated alone as well as part of mixed cropping. This coarse cereal occupies about 5.2 per cent of total cropped area in the country. Leading producers of bajra are the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. Being a rainfed crop, the yield level of this crop is low in Rajasthan and fluctuates a lot from year to year. Yield of this crop has increased during recent years in Haryana and Gujarat due to introduction of drought resistant varieties and expansion of irrigation under it.


Maize: Maize is a food as well as fodder crop grown under semi-arid climatic conditions and over inferior soils. This crop occupies only about 3.6 per cent of total cropped area. Maize cultivation is not concentrated in any specific region. It is sown all over India except eastern and north- eastern regions. The leading producers of maize are the states of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Yield level of maize is higher than other coarse cereals. It is high in southern states and declines towards central parts.


Pulses: Pulses are a very important ingredient of vegetarian food as these are rich sources of proteins. These are legume crops which increase the natural fertility of soils through nitrogen fixation. India is a leading producer of pulses and accounts for about one-fifth of the total production of pulses in the world. The cultivation of pulses in the country is largely concentrated in the dry lands of Deccan and central plateaus and northwestern parts of the country. Pulses occupy about 11 per cent of the total cropped area in the country. Being the rainfed crops of dry lands, the yields of pulses are low and fluctuate from year to year. Grain and tur are the main pulses cultivated in India.


Grain: Grain is cultivated in subtropical areas. It is mostly a rainfed crop cultivated during rabi season in central, western and northwestern parts of the country. Just one or two light showers or irrigations are required to grow this crop successfully. It has been displaced from the cropping pattern by wheat in Haryana, Punjab and northern Rajasthan following the green revolution. At present, grain covers only about 2.8 per cent of the total cropped area in the country. Madhya   Pradesh,   Uttar   Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan are the main producers of this pulse crop. The yield of this crop continues to be low and fluctuates from year to year even in irrigated areas.


Tur (Arhar): Tus is the second important pulse crop in the country. It is also known as red grain or pigeon pea. It is cultivated over marginal lands and under rainfed conditions in the dry areas of central and southern states of the country. This crop occupies only about 2 per cent of total cropped area of India. Maharashtra alone contributed about one- third of the total production of tur. Other leading producer states are Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Per hectare output of this crop is very low and its performance is inconsistent.


Oilseeds: The oilseeds are produced for extracting edible oils. Dry lands of Malwa plateau, Marathwada, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana and Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka plateau are oilseeds growing regions of India. These crops together occupy about 14 per cent of total cropped area in the country. Groundnut, rapeseed and mustard, soyabean and sunflower are the main oilseed crops grown in India.


Groundnut: India produces about 17 per cent the total of groundnut production in the world. It is largely a rainfed kharif crop of dry lands. But in southern India, it is cultivated during rabi season as well. It covers about 3.6 per cent of total cropped area in the country. Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra are the leading producers. Yield of groundnut is comparatively high in Tamil Nadu where it is partly irrigated. But its yield is low in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.


Rapeseed and Mustard: Rapeseed' and mustard comprise several oilseeds as rai, sarson, toria and taramira. These are subtropical crops cultivated during rabi season in north-western and central parts of India. These are frost sensitive crops and their yields fluctuate from year to year. But with the expansion of irrigation and improvement in seed technology; their yields have improved and stabilized to some extent. About two-third of the cultivated area under these crops is irrigated. These oilseeds together occupy only 2.5 per cent of total cropped area in the country. Rajasthan contributes about one-third production while other leading producers are Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Yields of these crops are comparatively high in Haryana and Rajasthan.


Other Oilseeds: Soyabean and sunflowers are other important oilseeds grown in India. Soyabean is mostly grown in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. These two states together produce about 90 per cent of total output of soyabean in the country. Sunflower cultivation is concentrated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and adjoining areas of Maharashtra. It is a minor crop in northern parts of the country where its yield is high due to irrigation.


Fiber Crops: These crops provide us fiber for preparing cloth, bags; sacks and a number of other items. Cotton and jute are two main fiber crops grown in India.


Cotton: Cotton is a tropical crop grown in kharif season in semi-arid areas of the country. India lost a large proportion of cotton growing area to Pakistan during partition. However, its acreage has increased considerably during the last 50 years. India grows both short staple (Indian) cotton as well as long staple (American) cotton called 'narma' in north-western parts of the country. Cotton requires clear sky during flowering stage.


India ranks fourth in the world in the production of cotton after China. U.S.A. and Pakistan and accounts for about 8.3 per cent of production of cotton in the world. Cotton occupies about 4.7 per cent of total cropped area in the country. There are three cotton growing areas, i.e. parts of Punjab, Haryana and northern Rajasthan in north-west, Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west and plateaus of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in South. Leading producers of this crop are Maharashtra/ Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. Per hectare output of cotton is high under irrigated conditions in north-western region of the country. Its yield is very low in Maharashtra where it is grown under rainfed conditions.


Jute: Jute is used for making coarse cloth, bags, sacks and decorative items. It is a cash crop in West Bengal and adjoining eastern parts of the country India lost large jute growing areas to East Pakistan (Bangladesh) during partition. At present, India produces about three-fifth of jute production of the world. West Bengal accounts for about three-fourth of the production in the country. Bihar and Assam are ether jute growing areas. Being concentrated only in a few states, this crop accounts for only about 0.5 per cent total cropped area in the country.


Other Crops: Sugarcane, tea and coffee are other important crops grown in India.

Sugarcane: Sugarcane is a crop of tropical areas. Under rainfed conditions, it is cultivated in sub-humid and humid climates. But it is largely an irrigated crop in India. In Indo-Gangetic' plain, its cultivation is largely concentrated in Uttar Pradesh. Sugarcane growing area in western India is spread over Maharashtra and Gujarat. In southern India, it is cultivated in irrigated tracts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.


India is the second largest producer of sugarcane after Brazil. It accounts for about 23 per cent of the world production of sugarcane. But it occupies only 2.4 per cent of total cropped are in the country. Uttar Pradesh produces about two-fifth of sugarcane of the country. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are other leading producers of this crop where yield level of sugarcane is high. Its yield is low in northern India.


Tea: Tea is a plantation crop used as beverage. Black tea leaves are fermented whereas green tea leaves are unfermented. Tea leaves are fermented whereas green tea leaves are unfermented. Tea leaves have rich content of caffeine and tannin. It is an indigenous crop of hills in northern China. It is grown over 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 Brahmaputra valley of Assam which still is a major tea growing area in the country. Later on, its plantation was introduced in the sub- Himalayan region of West Bengal (Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch districts). Tea is also cultivated on the lower slopes of Nilgiri and Cardamom hills in Western Ghats. India is a leading producer of tea and accounts for about 28 per cent of total production in the world. India's share in the international market of tea has declined substantially. At present, it ranks third among tea exporting countries in the world after Sri Lanka and China. Assam accounts for about 53.2 per cent 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 producers of tea.


Coffee: Coffee is a tropical plantation crop. Its seeds are roasted, ground and are used for preparing a beverage. There are three varieties of coffee i.e. Arabica, Robusta and liberica. India mostly grows superior quality coffee, Arabica/ which is in great demand in great demand in International market. But India produces only about 4.3 per cent coffee of the world and ranks sixth after Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Mexico. Coffee is cultivated in the highlands of Western Chats in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Karnataka alone accounts for more than two third of total production of coffee in the country.


Agricultural Development in India: Agriculture continues to be an important sector Indian economy. In 2001 about 53 per cent population of the country was dependent on it. The importance of agricultural sector in India can be gauged from the fact that .about 57 per cent of its land is devoted to crop cultivation, whereas, in the world, the corresponding share is only about 12 per cent. In spite of this, there is tremendous pressure on agricultural land in India, which is reflected from the fact that the land-human ratio in the country is only 0.31 ha which is almost of that of the world as a whole (0.59 ha). Despite various constrains, Indian agriculture has marched a long way since Independence.


Strategy of Development: Indian agricultural economy was largely subsistence in nature before Independence It had dismal performance in the first half of twentieth century. This period witnessed severe droughts and famines. During portion about one-third of the irrigated land in undivided India went to Pakistan. This reduced the proportion of irrigated area in Independent India. After Independence, the immediate goal of the Government was to increase food grains production by (i) switching over from cash crops to food crops; (ii) intensification of cropping over already cultivated land; and (iii) increasing cultivated area by bringing cultivable and fallow land under plough. Initially, this strategy helped in increasing food grains production. But agricultural production stagnated during late 1950s. To overcome this problem.  Intensive Agricultural District Programme (IADP) and Intensive Agricultural Area Programme (IAAP) were launched. But two consecutive droughts during mid-1960s resulted in food crisis in the country. Consequently, the food grains were imported from other countries.


New seed varieties of wheat (Mexico) and rice (Philippines) known as high yielding varieties (HYVs) were available for cultivation by mid-1960s. India took advantage of this and introduced package technology comprising HYVs, along with chemical fertilizers in irrigated areas of Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Assured supply of soil moisture through irrigation was a basic pre-requisite for the success of this new agricultural technology. This strategy of agricultural development paid dividends instantly and increased the food grains production at very fast rate. This spurt of agricultural growth came to be known as 'Green Revolution'.


This also gave fillip to the development of a large number of agro-inputs, agro- processing industries and small-scale industries. This strategy of agricultural development made the country self-reliant in food grain production. But green revolution was initially confined to irrigated areas only. This led to regional disparities in agricultural development in the country till the seventies, after which the technology spread to the Eastern and Central parts of the country.


The Planning Commission of India focused its attention on the problems of agriculture in rainfed areas in 1980s. It initiated agro-climatic planning in 1988 to induce regionally balanced agricultural development in the country. It also emphasized the need for diversification of agriculture and harnessing of resources for development of dairy farming, poultry, horticulture, livestock rearing and aquaculture.


Initiation of the policy of liberalization and free market economy in 1990s is likely to influence the course of development of Indian agriculture. Lack of development of rural infrastructure, withdrawal of subsidies and price support, and impediments in availing of the rural credits may lead to inter- regional and inter-personal disparities in rural areas.


Growth of Agricultural Output and Technology

There has been a significant increase in agricultural output and improvement in technology during the last fifty years.

  • Production and yield of many crops such as rice and wheat has increased at an impressive rate. Among the other crops, the production of sugarcane, oilseeds and cotton has also increased appreciably. India ranks first in the production of pulses, tea, jute, cattle and milk. It is the second largest producer of rice, wheat, groundnut, sugarcane and vegetables.
  • Expansion of irrigation has played a very crucial role in enhancing agricultural output in the country. It provided basis for introduction of modem agricultural technology such as high yielding varieties of seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and farm machinery. The net irrigated area in the country has increased from 20.85 million ha over the period 1950-51 to 2000-01. Over these 50 years, are irrigated more than once in an agricultural year has increased from 1.71 to 20.46 million ha.
  • Modem agricultural technology has diffused very fast in various areas of the country. Consumption of chemical fertilizers has increased by 15 times since mid-sixties. In 2001- 02, per hectare consumption of chemical fertilizers in India was 91 kg which was equal to its average consumption in the world (90 kg). But in the irrigated areas of Punjab and Haryana, the consumption of chemical fertilizers per unit area is three to four times higher than that of the national average. Since the high yielding varieties are highly susceptible to pests and diseases, the use of pesticides has increased significantly since 1960s.


Problems of Indian Agriculture: Yet, there are some problems which are common and range from physical constraints to institutional hindrances. A detailed discussion on these problems follows:


Dependence on Erratic Monsoon: Irrigation covers and about 33 per cent of the cultivated area in India. The crop production in rest of the cultivated land directly depends on rainfall.


Low productivity: The yield of the crops in the country is low in comparison to the international level. The vast rainfed areas of the country, particularly dry lads which mostly grow coarse cereals, pulses arid oilseeds have very low yields.


Constraints of Financial Resources and Indebtedness: The inputs of modern agriculture are very expensive. Crop failures and low returns from agriculture have forced them to fall-in the trap of indebtedness.


Lack of Land Reforms: After independence, land reforms were accorded priority, but these reforms were not implemented effectively due to lack of strong political will.


Small Farm Size and Fragmentation of Landholding: There are a large number of marginal and small farmers in the country. More than 60 per cent of the ownership holdings have a size smaller than one (ha). Furthermore, about 40 per cent of the farmers have operational holding size smaller than 0.5 hectare (ha). The average size of land holding is shrinking further under increasing population pressure.


Lack of Commercialization: Most of the small and marginal fanners grow food grains, which are meant for their own family consumption.   Modernization   and 4commercialization of agriculture have however, taken place in the irrigated areas.


Vast Under-employment: In these areas, there is a seasonal unemployment ranging from 4 to 8 months. Even in the cropping season work is not available throughout, as agricultural operations are not labour intensive.


Degradation of Cultivable Land: One of the serious problems that arises out of faulty strategy of irrigation and agricultural development is degradation of land resources.


You need to login to perform this action.
You will be redirected in 3 sec spinner