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Agriculture in India

Indian Geography short notes – Agriculture in India notes for UPSC Prelims and other examinations

Types of economic activities:

Primary activities:

  • Include all those activities related to the extraction and use of natural resources.
  • Examples – Agriculture, fishing, mining and gathering etc.

Secondary activities:

  • Processing of natural resources extracted in the Primary activities.
  • Examples – Manufacturing of steel,  Manufacturing of cars, baking of bread and weaving of cloth etc.

Tertiary activities:

  • Provide support to the primary and secondary sectors through various services.
  • Examples – Trade, transport, banking, insurance and advertising

Quaternary Activities:

  • Specialized activities in the ‘Knowledge Sector’. 
  • Examples – Teachers, Doctors etc.

Agriculture in India: 

  • It is a primary activity. 
  • It includes growing crops, fruits, vegetables, flowers and rearing of livestock. 
  • The land on which the crops are grown is known as arable land. Arable land (% of land area) in India is about 51.09%.
  • Agriculture in India is mainly rain-fed however irrigation facilities are rising.
  • Agriculture is important for the nation’s food security.
  • Agricultural and allied activities employ over two-thirds of India’s population.
  • Some other allied activities related to agriculture are:
    • Sericulture – Rearing of silkworms
    • Pisciculture – Breeding of fish
    • Viticulture – Cultivation of grapes
    • Horticulture – Growing vegetables, flowers and fruits for commercial use

Types of Farming:

Subsistence farming: 

  • Mainly practiced to meet the needs of the farmer’s family. 
  • Use of low levels of technology
  • Household labor
  • Small output
  • Types of Subsistence farming:
    • Intensive subsistence:

      • Growing of more than one crop annually on the same plot
      • Main crops – Rice, wheat, maize, pulses etc.
    • Primitive subsistence :

      • Shifting cultivation:
        • In this type, A plot of land is cleared by felling the trees and burning them. After clearing the land, crops are grown repeatedly in the same area.  After the soil loses its fertility, the land is abandoned and the cultivator moves to a new plot. 
        • Mainly practiced in north east India.
        • Also known as ‘slash and burn’ agriculture
        • Different names of shifting cultivation:
          • Jhumming – North-East India 
          • Milpa -Mexico 
          • Roca – Brazil
          • Ladang – Malaysia

Commercial Farming:

  • Crops are grown and animals are reared for sale in the market for profit. 
  • Cultivated land is generally large
  • The amount of capital used is large. 
  • High use of mechanization
  • Common commercially grown grains – Wheat and maize


  • A type of commercial farming 
  • In this type, a single crop like tea, coffee, sugarcane, cashew, rubber, banana or cotton are grown in a large area 
  • Large amounts of labor and capital are required. 
  • The produce is processed in the factories to make the end product. 

 Cropping seasons in India:

. India has three cropping seasons as following:


  • Sown in winter from October to December
  • Harvested in summer from April to June. 
  • Important rabi crops – Wheat, barley, peas, gram and mustard
  • States from the north and northwestern parts such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are the major producers of rabi crops.
  • In the north and northwest parts of India, the precipitation caused by western disturbances helps in the growth of rabi crops.


  • Grown with the onset of monsoon
  • Harvested in September-October
  • Important Kharif crops – Paddy, maize, jowar, bajra, tur(Arhar), moong, urad, cotton, jute, groundnut and soybeans.
  • Major producers of kharif crops –  Assam, West Bengal, coastal regions of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar


  • Grown in between the rabi and the kharif seasons
  • Important crops – Watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber and other vegetables

Important crops of India:


  • Major food crop of the world
  • Staple diet of the tropical and subtropical regions
  • Needs high temperature, high humidity and rainfall to grow. 
  • Grows best in alluvial clayey soil, which can retain water for longer duration. 


  • Needs moderate temperature and rainfall during the growing season and bright sunshine at the time of harvest
  • Grows best in well drained loamy soil
  • In India it is grown in winter as a rabi crop.


  • Also known as coarse grains
  • Can be grown on less fertile and sandy soils
  • Needs low rainfall and high to moderate temperature
  • Millets grown in India – Jowar, bajra and ragi


  • Needs moderate temperature, rainfall and lots of sunshine to grow.
  • Needs well-drained fertile soils.


  • Needs high temperature, light rainfall and two hundred and ten frost-free days and bright sunshine to grow. 
  • Grows best on black and alluvial soils.
  • It is one of the major raw materials for the cotton textile industry.


  • Needs high temperatures, heavy rainfall and humid climate to grow.
  • Also known as the ‘Golden Fiber’. 
  • Grows well on alluvial soil
  • Mainly grown in the tropical areas. 
  • India is one of the leading producers of jute.


  • Needs warm and wet climate to grow
  • Grows best on well drained loamy soil
  • Hill slopes are suitable for its growth
  • Brazil is the leading producer in the world followed by Columbia and India.


  • Needs cool climate and well distributed rainfall throughout the year
  • It is a beverage crop.
  • Mainly grown on plantations
  • Grows best on well drained loamy soil
  • Gentle hill slopes are suitable for its growth
  • Labour Intensive – Requires large numbers of labor to pick the leaves

Problems of Indian Agriculture:

  • Small and fragmented landholdings has rendered farming unprofitable
  • Lack of good variety of seeds
  • Over Usage of Fertilizers has resulted in soil depletion
  • Lack of irrigation facilities/Over irrigation in some areas
  • Inadequate storage facilities leads to wastage
  • Low use of Technology
  • Inadequate transport and connectivity
  • Scarcity of capital to invest in good seeds and mechanization
  • Lack of crop diversification leads to lower produce

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