Indian Agriculture: Crop Types, Characteristics, and Challenges (2023)

Indian Agriculture: Crop Types, Characteristics, and Challenges (1)Agriculture is the main source of income for about 58% of the Indian population. Read here to find out more about Indian agriculture.

India has one of the largest plains in the world - the Indo-Gangetic Plain, which is immensely fertile.

India has different climatic conditions andTypes of soil.

These physical differences, along with factors such as the availability of irrigation, the use of machinery, modern agricultural inputs such as high-yielding varieties (HYV) of seeds, insecticides, and pesticides, have played an important role in the development of various practices. agricultural in the Indian agricultural sector.

Table of Contents

Types of agriculture in India

Some of the main types of agriculture are discussed below.

i) Subsistence agriculture:

Most of the farmers in India practice subsistence farming – farming for consumption. All production is mainly consumed by farmers and their families and they have no surplus to sell on the market.

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In this type of agriculture, land ownership is small and fragmented; Cultivation techniques are primitive and simple. There is a lack of modern equipment such as tractors and inputs such as chemical fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides. In this agriculture, farmers mainly grow cereals along with oilseeds, pulses, vegetables, and sugarcane.

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Subsistence agriculture is further divided into:

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  • Intensive
  • Primitive

Primitive subsistence agriculture is practiced on tracts of land using primitive tools such as simple digging tools and community or family labor. This type of cultivation depends on the monsoon, along with soil fertility and other environmental conditions. Examples of such species are shifting cultivation and nomadic pastoralism.

  • Shifting cultivation is practiced in heavily forested regions such as the Amazon Basin, tropical Africa, parts of Southeast Asia, and Northeast India. These areas receive heavy rainfall, so the vegetation regenerates quickly.
  • A piece of land is cleared by cutting down trees and burning them. The ash is then mixed with the soil and crops such as corn, yams, potatoes, and cassava are grown. The land will be abandoned once fertility declines.
  • Nomadic husbandry is practiced in the semi-arid and arid regions of the Sahara, Central Asia, and some parts of India, such as Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Herders move their animals from one place to another along fixed routes to obtain food and water, and such movements arise due to seasonal changes. Animals such as sheep, camels, yaks, and goats are most commonly farmed.

Intensive subsistence agriculture is practiced in small areas with simple tools and more labor. The products are sufficient for local consumption and for sale in the open air. The sunny climate and fertile soil for most of the year allow more than one crop to be produced per year on the same plot. Rice, wheat, corn, legumes and oilseeds are usually cultivated.

ii) Intensive and extensive agriculture

The fundamental difference between these two types of agriculture is the amount of production per unit area. Compared to the temperate regions of the US, Canada and India, extensive cultivation is not practiced.

When a large area of ​​land is used for cultivation, it is called extensive agriculture. Here the total output may be high due to the larger area, but the output per unit is low.

Intensive agriculture has a high production per unit of land. An example of intensive cultivation is Kerala, where the availability of farmland is very limited.

iii) Commercial Agriculture

It is the exact opposite of subsistence farming, as most of the produce is sold on the market to earn money. In this system, farmers use inputs such as irrigation, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, high-yield seed varieties, etc.

Some of the major cash crops grown in different parts of India areCotton, jute, sugar cane, peanuts, etc.

Rice cultivation in Harayana is mainly for commercial purposes as the people in this area are mostly wheat eaters. However, in the eastern and northeastern states of India, rice cultivation would be large and depend on subsistence type.

iv) Management of Plantations:

In this species, a single commercial crop is grown for sale in national and international markets. This type of agriculture involves growing and processing a single cash crop that is only for sale.

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Tea, coffee, rubber, bananas, and spices are examples of plantation crops. Most of these plants were introduced to India by the British in the 19th century.

v) Mixed Agriculture:

Mixed farming occurs when both agriculture and livestock are practiced at the same time. Farmers who engage in mixed farming also have economic benefits.

All classifications are based on the type and purpose of farming and therefore may overlap in some cases. For example, bananas are a plantation economy but can also be classified as commercial agriculture.

Features of Indian Agriculture

subsistence farming: Most of India has subsistence agriculture, which has been practiced in India for several hundred years and is still prevalent.

Population pressure on agriculture: Despite increasing urbanization and industrialization, about 70% of the population continues to depend directly or indirectly on agriculture.

Mechanization in agriculture:Even after more than forty yearsgreen revolutionand revolution in agricultural machinery and equipment, complete mechanization has not yet been achieved.

Bishop Independence:Despite large-scale expansion, today only about a third of the total crop area is irrigated. As a result, two thirds of the cultivated area is still dependent on the monsoon.

Varieties:Since India has both tropical and temperate climates, plants from both climate zones can be found in India. There are very few countries in the world that have a diversity comparable to India. You would realize that if we discussed the different types of plants in detail.

The supremacy of food plants:The production of food crops is the priority of farmers in almost the entire country.

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season pattern:There are three distinct farming/harvesting seasons in India: Kharif, Rabi and Zaid. In India, certain crops are grown during these three seasons. For example, rice is a kharif crop while wheat is a rabi crop.

Challenges for Indian agriculture

The challenges facing Indian agriculture can be broadly classified into two categories: the long-standing problems and the emerging problems due to prevailing farming practices, the system, the changing climate and the economy.

Stagnation in the production of important crops:Production of some of the most important staple foods, such as rice and wheat, has been stagnant for some time. This is a situation that worries our agronomists, planners and policy makers, as it creates a huge gap between the demand of the ever-growing population and production.

High costs of operating resources:Farm inputs include fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, HYV seeds, farm labor costs, etc. Such an increase penalizes farmers with small and medium properties.

soil depletion:The green revolution has played a positive role in reducing hunger in India, but it also has negative consequences. One of them issoil depletionThis means the loss of nutrients in the soil from growing the same crop repeatedly.

Groundwater depletion:The second negative consequence of the Green Revolution is the scarcity of fresh groundwater. Most of the irrigation in the dry areas of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh has been carried out by over-exploitation of groundwater. Today, the fresh water situation in these states is alarming.

Global climate change:The impact of climate change on Indian agriculture was predicted to be immense. It is predicted that due to climate change, the temperature would rise, leading to rising sea levels, more intense cyclones, unpredictable rainfall, etc. These changes would affect the production of rice and wheat. In particular, an increase in winter temperatures would affect wheat production in northern India. Rice production in coastal areas of India would be affected by saltwater intrusion and an increase in the frequency of cyclones.

effects of globalization: All developing countries are affected by globalization. The most obvious impact is the reduction in farmers' income and the threat to the viability of the crop in India. This is due to rising input costs and falling output prices. This reflects the combination of reduced subsidy and protection for farmers. Trade liberalization exposes these farmers to competition from heavily subsidized production in developed countries.

Provide food security:Before the launch of the green revolution in India, we were not self-sufficient in terms of our production of food grains. But in recent decades, agriculture is not growing with population growth and to ensure food security factors such as accessibility, affordability and nutritional value of available food must be considered.

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Peasant Suicides:Diepeasant suicidesthey appear to be concentrated in regions with high commercialization of Indian agriculture and very high agricultural debt. Cash crop farmers appeared to be much more vulnerable than those who grew food. The commercialization of the countryside together with a massive drop in investment in agriculture marked the beginning of the decline. The privatization of many resources has also exacerbated the problems.

Indian agriculture: key facts

DieIndia Economic Survey 2020-21The report states that in fiscal year 20:

  • The country's total food grain production was recorded at 296.65 million tons (an increase of 11.44 million tons compared to 285.21 million tons in fiscal year 2019).
  • The government has set itself the goal of buying 42.74 million tons of the core group in fiscal year 21; that's 10% more than the amount purchased in fiscal year 20.
  • For fiscal year 22, the government has set a record target for farmers to increase edible grain production by 2% to 307.31 million tons of edible grains.
  • Production for fiscal year 21 was recorded at 303.34 million tons against a target of 301 million tons.
  • Gross value added (GVA) from agriculture, forestry and fisheries has been estimated at Rs. 19.48 lakhcrore in FY20.
  • Agriculture and related sectors accounted for 17.8% of India's GVA at current prices in FY2020.
  • Consumer spending in India will grow again in 2021 after the pandemic-related decline, rising as much as 6.6%.


What are the major characteristics and problems of Indian agriculture? ›

Despite such gains, Indian agriculture faces issues associated with adaptation to climate change disturbances, fragmented landholdings, low farm productivity and high food price volatility which call for next generation reforms like adoption of environmentally sustainable and climate resistant new farm technology, ...

What are the challenges in Indian agriculture? ›

Average farm size, poor infrastructure, low use of farm technologies and best farming techniques, decrease of soil fertility due to over fertilization and sustained pesticide use, are leading contributors to low agricultural productivity.

What are the 7 major crops in India? ›

Major crops grown in India are rice, wheat, millets, pulses, tea, coffee, sugarcane, oil seeds, cotton and jute, etc. of canal irrigation and tubewells have made it possible to grow rice in areas of less rainfall such as Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan.

What are the three problems of Indian agriculture? ›

Read on for a detailed analysis into the Problems of Indian Agriculture, the challenges of Indian agriculture like the Dependence of Erratic Monsoon, Constraints of Financial Resources and Indebtedness, Lack of Land Reforms, low productivity, etc.

What are the types of Indian agriculture? ›

Broadly speaking the types of Indian agriculture are:
  • Mixed farming.
  • Plantation.
  • Subsistence farming.
  • Dry land & wet land farming.
  • Intensive & extensive farming.

What are the challenges of agricultural crops? ›

However, agricultural sector has been beset with persistent challenges resulting in low farm incomes, low rural employment, lack of food security, and meager agricultural competitiveness.

What is India's main crop? ›

Grain (Wheat, rice, maize, pulses and millets), commercial crops (Jute, cotton, sugarcane, oilseeds and tobacco), plantations crops (rubber, coffee, tea, coconut), and horticulture crops (vegetables and fruits) are the four primary crops in India. Despite this, rice remains India's most widely grown crop.

What is the most common crop in India? ›

The principal food grain of India is rice. In terms of rice production, the country holds the second position all over the world. Rice is grown in approximately 34% of the overall cropped territory of the country. Rice production comprises 42% of the overall food crop production in the country.

What is the number 1 crop in India? ›

Option C) Rice: Rice crop also known as paddy crop, India has largest output of rice in the world and is second largest exporter of rice in the world. Rice has been a basic food crop grown in India. West Bengal is the state which produces rice in large amounts. So, option C is correct.

What are the three characteristics of Indian agricultural? ›

(i) On account of variety of soils and climatic variations wide variety of crops can be grown. (ii) There are two important crop seasons in India: Kharif and Rabi. (iii) Both the intensive and extensive types of farming are prevalent in India.

What are the four features of agriculture in India? ›

(i) HYV seeds and modern inputs are used to increase the production. (ii) More than one crop is cultivated during a year. (iii) It is practised in thickly populated areas. (iv) The per hectare yield is very high.

What are five agricultural challenges? ›

Farmers need to deal with many problems, including how to:
  • Cope with climate change, soil erosion and biodiversity loss.
  • Satisfy consumers' changing tastes and expectations.
  • Meet rising demand for more food of higher quality.
  • Invest in farm productivity.
  • Adopt and learn new technologies.

Why does agriculture fail in India? ›

Instability: Agriculture in India is largely depends on monsoon. As a result, production of food-grains fluctuates year after year. A year of abundant output of cereals is often followed by a year of acute shortage.

What are the biggest challenges in agriculture? ›

Soil quality, water quality, climate, and terrain are just a few of the environmental issues that may impact profits and productivity for farmers in any given growing season.

What are the major problems in agriculture? ›

  • Challenges.
  • climate change.
  • deforestation.
  • landlessness.
  • lack of integration.
  • land fragmentation.
  • land degradation.
  • urbanization.

What are the major causes of agriculture crisis in India? ›

There are number of conflicting reasons for agrarian crisis, such as monsoon failure, high debt burdens, genetically modified crops, government policies, public mental health, personal issues and family problems farmers indebtedness and bankruptcy and farms regarding issues i.e. fragmentation and subdivision of land ...

What are the issues and problems in agriculture? ›

Although industrialized agriculture has been successful in producing large quantities of food, the future of food production is in jeopardy due to problems in agriculture. Two of the most major problems in agriculture are the loss of agricultural land and the decrease in the varieties of crops and livestock produced.


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