Land Resources and Agriculture of India- NCERT Notes UPSC

Land Resources and Agriculture

The land is put to different uses. Some land is occupied by rivers, some may have trees and, on some parts roads, and buildings have been built. Different types of lands are suited to different uses. Human beings use land as a resource for production as well as residence and recreation.

Navigate through this detailed blog on Land resources and Agriculture of India to enhance your UPSC exam preparation.

Land Use

  • Land-use records are 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 is 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 Records are as follows

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Area under Permanent Pastures and Grazing Lands: Most of this type of 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’.
  • Area under Miscellaneous Tree Crops and Groves (Not included in Net sown Area): The land under orchards and fruit trees are included in this category. Much of this land is privately owned.
  • Culturable Wasteland: Any land which is left fallow (uncultivated) for more than five years is included in this category. It can be brought under cultivation after improving it through reclamation practices.
  • Current Fallow: This is the land which is left without cultivation for one or less than one agricultural year. Following is a cultural practice adopted for giving the land rest. The land recoups the lost fertility through natural processes.
  • Fallow other than Current Fallow: This is also a cultivable land which is left uncultivated for more than a year but less than five years. If the land is left uncultivated for more than five years, it would be categorised as culturable wasteland.
  • 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 that region. However, while economic activities change over time, land, like many other natural resources, is 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.

  • The size of the economy (measured in terms of value for all the goods and services produced in the economy) grows over time as a result of increasing population, change in income levels, available technology, and associated factors. 
    • As a result, the pressure on land will increase with time and marginal lands would come under use.
  • The composition of the economy would undergo a change over time. The secondary and the tertiary sectors usually grow much faster than the primary sector, specifically the agricultural sector. This type of change is common in developing countries, like India. 
    • This process would result in a gradual shift of land from agricultural uses to non-agricultural uses. 
  • Though the contribution of the agricultural activities reduces over time, the pressure on land for agricultural activities does not decline. The reasons for continued pressure on agricultural land are:
  • In developing countries, the share of population dependent on agriculture usually declines much more slowly compared to the decline in the sector’s share in GDP. 
  • The number of people that the agricultural sector has to feed is increasing day by day.

India has undergone major changes within the economy over the past four or five decades, and this has influenced the land-use changes in the country. Share of area under forest, area under non-agricultural uses, current fallow lands, and net area sown have shown an increase. The following observations can be made about these increases:

  • 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.
    • 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.
  • The increase in the share under forest, accounted by increase in the demarcated area under forest rather than an actual increase in the forest cover in the country.
  • The trend of current fallow fluctuates a great deal over years, depending on the variability of rainfall and cropping cycles.
  • The increase in net area sown is a recent phenomenon due to use of culturable waste land for agricultural purpose. Before which it was registering a slow decrease.
  • There are indications that most of the decline had occurred due to the increases in area under non-agricultural use.

The four categories that have registered a decline are barren and wasteland, culturable wasteland, area under pastures and tree crops and fallow lands. Reasons behind decline are:

  • As the pressure on land increased, the wastelands and culturable wastelands have witnessed decline over time.
  • 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.

Common Property Resources

Land, according to its ownership can broadly be classified under two broad heads:

  • Private land: It is owned by an individual or group of individuals.
  • Common property resources (CPRs): This land is mean for use of the community. Such as Community forests, pasture lands, village water bodies etc.

CPRs provide fodder for the livestock and fuel for the households along with other minor forest products like fruits, nuts, fibre, medicinal plants, etc.

  • In rural areas, such land is of particular relevance for the livelihood of the landless and marginal farmers and other weaker sections since many of them depend on income from their livestock due to the fact that they have limited access to land.
  • CPRs also are important for women as most of the fodder and fuel collection is done by them in rural areas.
  • CPRs can be defined as community’s natural resource, where every member has the right of access and usage with specified obligations, without anybody having property rights over them.

Agricultural Land Uses in India

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

  • Agriculture is purely land based activity. The 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.
  • Quality of land has a direct bearing on the productivity of agriculture, which is not true for other activities.
  • In rural areas, aside from its value as a productive factor, land ownership has a social value and serves as a security for credit, 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 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.

Composition of Total Cultivable Land

Agricultural Land – use Categories

As a percentage of Reporting Area

As a percentage of total cultivable land

1950-51

2014-15

1950-51

2014-15

Culturable Waste land 

8.0

4.0

13.4

6.8

Fallow other than Current Fallow

6.1

3.6

10.2

6.2

Current Fallow

3.7

4.9

6.2

8.4

Net Area Sown

41.7

45.5

70.0

78.4

Total Cultivable Land

59.5

58.0

100.00

100.00

  • The scope for bringing in additional land under net sown area in India is limited. There is, thus, an urgent need to evolve and adopt land-saving technologies. Such technologies can be classified under two heads:
    • Those which raise the yield of any particular crop per unit area of land. 
    • Those which increase the total output per unit area of land from all crops grown over one agricultural year by increasing land-use intensity.
  • The cropping intensity (CI) is calculated as follows:

Cropping Seasons in India

There are three distinct crop seasons in the northern and interior parts of country.

  • Kharif Season: It largely coincides with Southwest Monsoon under which the cultivation of tropical crops, such as rice, cotton, jute, jowar, bajra and tur is possible.
  • Rabi Season: It begins with the onset of winter in October-November and ends in March-April. The low temperature conditions facilitate the cultivation of temperate and subtropical crops such as wheat, gram, and mustard.

Cropping Seasons in India

Cropping Season

                                       Major Crops Cultivated

Northern States

Southern States

Kharif 

June – September

Rice, Cotton, Bajra, Maize, Jowar, Tur

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

  • Zaid Season: It 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.

This type of distinction in the cropping season does not exist in southern parts of India. 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.

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 as based on the objective of irrigation, i.e., protective, or productive. 

  • Protective Irrigation: It protect the crops from adverse effects of soil moisture deficiency. The strategy of this kind of irrigation is to provide soil moisture to maximum possible area.
  • Productive Irrigation: It is meant to provide sufficient soil moisture in the cropping season to achieve high productivity. The water input per unit area of cultivated land is higher than protective irrigation.

Classification of Rainfed Farming based on adequacy of soil moisture during cropping season: 

  • Dryland Farming: 
    • It 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 practise various measures of soil moisture conservation and rainwater harvesting.
  • 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 practise aquaculture in the freshwater bodies.

Watch a detailed video on Social Forestry by Himanshu Sharma Sir, our Geography faculty and enhance your UPSC CSE preparation:

Food Grains

  • These crops occupy about two-third of total cropped area in the country. 
  • Food grains are dominant crops in all parts of India 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: They occupy about 54 per cent of total cropped area in India. 

  • India 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, bajra, maize, ragi), etc.

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’
  • In Himalayas and North-Western parts of India, it is grown as a kharif crop during southwest Monsoon season.
  • India contributes 21.6 per cent of rice production in the world and ranked second after China in 2016. About one-fourth of the total cropped area in the country is under rice cultivation. West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab are the leading rice producing states in the country.
  • The yield level of rice is high in Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, 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. Genetically 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 areas of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha.

Wheat

  • Wheat is the second most important cereal crop in India after rice. 
  • India has maximum area under wheat cultivation in world.
  • It is primarily a crop of temperate zone. Hence, its cultivation in India is done during winter i.e., rabi season.
  • Concentration of Crop: About 85 per cent of total area is concentrated in north and central regions of India i.e., Indo Gangetic Plain, Malwa Plateau and Himalayas up to 2,700 m altitude.
  • It is mostly grown under irrigated conditions as it is a rabi crop. But it is a rainfed crop in Himalayan highlands and parts of Malwa plateau in Madhya Pradesh. 
  • About 14 per cent of the total cropped area in India is under wheat cultivation.
  • Leading Wheat Producing States: Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
  • 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 India. 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 India. Other leading producer states are Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • It is sown in both kharif and rabi seasons in southern states
  • 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 India.
  • 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: 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 Punjab and eastern and North-Eastern regions.
  • Leading Producers of Maize: Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, 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 in the world.
  • The cultivation of pulses in India is largely concentrated in the drylands 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 drylands, the yields of pulses are low and fluctuate from year to year. 
  • Gram and tur are the main pulses cultivated in India.

Gram

  • Gram is cultivated in subtropical areas
  • It is mostly a rainfed crop cultivated during rabi season in central, western and NorthWestern parts of India.
  • 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.
  • Gram covers only about 2.8 per cent of the total cropped area in the country. 
  • Main Producers: Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Rajasthan.
  • The yield of this crop continues to be low and fluctuates from year to year even in irrigated areas.

Tur (Arhar)

  • Tur is the second important pulse crop in India and is also known as red gram or pigeon pea. 
  • It is cultivated over marginal lands and under rainfed conditions in the dry areas of central and southern states of India.
  • It occupies only about 2 per cent of total cropped area of India. 
  • Maharashtra alone contributes about one-third of the total production of tur.
  • Other Leading Producers: 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
  • Oilseeds Growing Regions: Drylands of Malwa plateau, Marathwada, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana, Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka plateau.
  • These crops together occupy about 14 per cent of total cropped area in India.
  • Main oilseeds crops grown in India: Groundnut, rapeseed, and mustard, soyabean and sunflower.

Groundnut

  • India produces about 16.6 per cent of the total groundnut production in the world (2016). 
  • It is largely a rainfed kharif crop of drylands. But in southern India, it is also cultivated during rabi season.
  • It covers about 3.6 per cent of total cropped area in the country. 
  • Leading Producers: Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.
  • The yield of groundnut is comparatively high in Tamil Nadu where it is partly irrigated. But its yield is low in Telangana, 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 stabilised to some extent.
  • About two-third of the cultivated area under these crops is irrigated. 
  • These oilseeds together occupy only about 2.5 per cent of total cropped area in the country. 
  • Leading Producers: Rajasthan contributes about one-third production while other leading producers are Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. 
  • Yields of these crops are comparatively high in Haryana and Rajasthan.

Other Oilseeds

  • Soyabean and sunflower are other important oilseeds grown in India. 
  • Soyabean:
    • It 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:
    • Its cultivation is concentrated in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and adjoining areas of Maharashtra.
    • It is a minor crop in Northern parts of India where its yield is high due to irrigation.

Fiber Crops

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

Cotton

  • Cotton is a tropical crop grown in kharif season in semi-arid areas of the country. 
  • India grows short staple (Indian) cotton and long staple (American) cotton called ‘narma’ in north-western parts of India.
  • Cotton requires clear sky during flowering stage. 
  • India ranks second in the world in the production of cotton after China.
  • Cotton Growing areas in India:
    • Parts of Punjab, Haryana and northern Rajasthan in north-west. 
    • Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west.
    • Plateaus of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in south.
  • Leading Producers: Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana .
  • Per hectare output of cotton is high under irrigated conditions in north-western region of India.
  • 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 India.
  • 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 other jute growing areas. 
  • This crop accounts for only about 0.5 per cent of total cropped area in India.

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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, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • It accounts for about 19 per cent of the world production of sugarcane. But it occupies only 2.4 per cent of total cropped area 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 have rich content of caffeine and tannin. 
  • It is an indigenous crop of hills in northern China
  • Conditions: 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 Behar 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 21.1 per cent of total production in the world 2016. 
  • India’s share in the international market of tea has declined substantially. It ranks second among tea exporting countries in the world after China (2016).
  • 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 International market.
  • India produces only about 3.7 per cent coffee of the world and ranks seventh after Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Honduras in 2016.
  • Cultivated Areas: Coffee is cultivated in the highlands of Western Ghats in Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. Karnataka alone accounts for more than two-third of total production of coffee in India.

Useful links for UPSC IAS preparation:

Macroeconomics- Indian Economy Notes: NCERT Notes UPSCElection and Representation- NCERT Notes UPSCCold War: Origin, Causes and Phases- NCERT Notes UPSCPopulation Composition- NCERT Notes UPSC
Acids, Bases and Salts- NCERT Notes UPSCFundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution- NCERT Notes UPSCHuman Geography: Nature and Scope- NCERT Notes UPSCMetals and Nonmetals- NCERT Notes UPSC

Agriculture Development in India

Before Independence

  • Indian agricultural economy was largely subsistence in nature. It had dismal performance in the first half of twentieth century. 
  • This period witnessed severe droughts and famines.

During Partition

  • 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, switching over from cash crops to food crops; intensification of cropping over already cultivated land; and 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 India. 
    • Consequently, 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 fertilisers 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 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 1970s, after which the technology spread to the Eastern and Central parts of India.
  • 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 India. 
    • It also emphasised on the need for diversification of agriculture and harnessing of resources for the development of dairy farming, poultry, horticulture, livestock rearing and aquaculture.
  • Initiation of the policy of liberalisation and free market economy in 1990s influenced the course of development of Indian agriculture.

Growth of Agriculture Output and Technology: There has been a significant increase in agricultural output and improvement in technology during the last 50 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.
  • Expansion of Irrigation
    • It has played a crucial role in enhancing agricultural output in India.
    • It provided basis for introduction of modern agricultural technology, such as high yielding varieties of seeds, chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and farm machinery. 
    • The net irrigated area in the country has also increased.
  • Modern agricultural technology has diffused very fast in various areas of the country.
    • Consumption of chemical fertilizers has increased by 15 times since mid-sixties. 
    • 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

It varies according to agro-ecological and historical experiences of its different regions. There are some problems which are common and range from physical constraints to institutional hindrances.

Dependence of Erratic Monsoon

  • Irrigation covers only about 33 per cent of the cultivated area in India. The crop production in rest of the cultivated land directly depends on rain. 
    • Poor performance of south-west monsoon also adversely affects the supply of canal water for irrigation. 
    • Even the areas receiving high annual rainfall experience considerable fluctuations.
  • Drought is a common phenomenon in the low rainfall areas, which may also experience occasional floods. Droughts and floods continue to be the twin menace in Indian agriculture.

Low Productivity

  • The yield of the crops in the country is low in comparison to the international level. 
    • Per hectare output of most of the crops such as rice, wheat, cotton, and oilseeds in India is much lower than that of the U.S.A., Russia, and Japan.
    • The vast rainfed areas of the country, particularly drylands which mostly grow coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds have low yields.
  • The labour productivity in Indian agriculture is very low because of the very high pressure on the land resources.

Constraints of Financial Resources and Indebtedness

  • The modern agriculture inputs are very expensive. This resource intensive approach has become unmanageable for marginal and small farmers as they have very meagre or no saving to invest in agriculture.
  • To tide over these difficulties, most of such farmers have resorted to availing credit from various institutions and moneylenders.
  • Crop failures and low returns from agriculture have forced them to fall in the trap of indebtedness.

Lack of Land Reforms

  • Indian peasantry had been exploited as there had been unequal distribution of land.
  • Among the three revenue systems operational during British period, i.e., Mahalwari, Ryotwari and Zamindari, the Zamindari was most exploitative for the peasants.
  • 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 Landholdings

  • There are a large number of marginal and small farmers and the average size of land holding is shrinking under increasing population pressure.
  • There are some states where consolidation of holding has not been carried out even once.
  • The small size fragmented landholdings are uneconomic.

Lack of Commercialisation

  • A large number of farmers produce crops for self-consumption and these farmers do not have enough land resources to produce more than their requirement.
  • Modernisation and commercialisation of agriculture have taken place in the irrigated areas.

Vast Underemployment

  • There is a massive underemployment in the agricultural sector in India, particularly in the unirrigated tracts.
    • 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

  • The problem of degradation of land resources arises out of faulty strategy of irrigation and agricultural development. This may lead to depletion of soil fertility.
  • The situation is particularly alarming in irrigated areas. A large tract of agricultural land has lost its fertility due to alkalisation and salinisation of soils and waterlogging.
  • Excessive use of chemicals such as insecticides and pesticides has led to their concentration in toxic amounts in the soil profile.
  • Leguminous crops have been displaced from the cropping pattern in the irrigated areas and duration of fallow has substantially reduced owing to multiple cropping.
  • Rainfed areas in humid and semi-arid tropics also experience degradation of several types like soil erosion by water and wind erosion which are often induced by human activities.

Interesting Points

  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) 
    • It is to make agriculture more productive, sustainable, remunerative and climate resilient by promoting location specific integrated/composite farming systems and to conserve natural resources through appropriate soil and moisture conservation measures. 
    • The Government has been promoting organic farming in the country through the scheme such as Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) and Rastriya Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
  • Farmer’s Portal of India:
    • It gives detailed information on farmers’ insurance, agriculture storage, crops, extension activities, seeds, pesticides, farm machineries, etc.
    • Block level details related to soil fertility, storage, insurance, training, etc. are available in an interactive map.

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