• Agriculture holds a significant place in the Indian economy, with over 70% of rural households relying on it for their livelihoods. As a critical sector of the Indian economy, agriculture contributes around 17% to the total GDP and employs approximately 58% of the population.
  • Indian agriculture has witnessed remarkable growth over the past several decades, with food grain production surging from 51 million tonnes (MT) in 1950-51 to 250MT in 2011-12, the highest level since independence.

Different types of farming in India

Shifting Agriculture

  • In this type of agriculture, a piece of forest land is cleared by cutting trees and burning of trunks and branches.
  • After the land is cleared, crops are grown for two to three years and then the land is abandoned as the fertility of the soil decreases.
  • The farmers then move to new areas and the process is repeated.
  • This is practiced in most parts of India, especially North East Region.

Subsistence Agriculture

  • In subsistence agriculture, the farmer and his family produce crops for themselves only or for the local market.
  • This type of farming is characterized by small and scattered land holdings and the use of primitive tools.
  • As the farmers are poor, they could not use fertilizers and high yielding variety of seeds in their fields that could increase their productivity.

Intensive Farming

  • Intensive farming aims at maximum possible production on the limited farms with all efforts possible under the given circumstances.
  • In this type of farming, farmers are capable of raising more than one crop a year, and huge capital and human labor are employed on every hectare of land.
  • It is practiced in most parts of densely populated areas of our country.

Extensive Farming

  • Extensive farming is the modern system of farming done on large farms also known as mechanical farming due to the extensive use of machines.
  • The extensive farm raises only one crop a year and employment of labor and capital per hectare of land is comparatively less than the intensive farming.

Plantation Agriculture

  • In plantation agriculture, bush or tree farming is done in huge areas.
  • This type of farming is capital centered and needs good managerial ability, technical knowledge, improved machinery, fertilizers, and irrigation and transport facilities, among others.
  • It can be distinguished from other farming as a particular or single-sown crop like rubber, tea, coconut, coffee, cocoa, spices, and fruit crops, etc. is sown and the yield is generally obtained continuously for a number of years.
  • Plantation agriculture is export-oriented agriculture where the focus is more on the marketing ability of the crop.
  • Most of the crops grown in plantation agriculture have a life cycle of more than two years.
  • It is practiced in Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, and Maharashtra.

Commercial Agriculture

  • Commercial Agriculture is practiced to raise crops on a large scale with a view to exporting them to other countries and increasing the foreign reserve of the country.
  • This type of farming is done mostly in sparsely populated areas.
  • It is mainly practiced in Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, and Maharashtra.
  • Examples: Wheat, cotton, sugarcane, corn, etc.

Dry Land Farming

  • Dry farming or dry-land farming may be defined as a practice of growing crops without irrigation in areas that receive an annual rainfall of 750 mm ‚Äď 500 mm or even less.
  • It is practiced in low rainfall areas or where there is an inadequate irrigation facility.
  • In this type of farming, moisture is maintained by raising special types of crops.
  • Gram, jowar, bajra, and peas are such crops that need less water.
  • Dryland farming is practiced in dry areas of the country such as western, north-western India and central India.

Wet Land Farming

  • Wetland agriculture depends mainly upon rain, so it is practiced in high-rainfall or well-irrigated areas.
  • In this type of farming, the major crops are rice, jute, and sugarcane.
  • This type of farming is prevalent in the north, north-eastern India and on the slopes of the Western Ghats.

Terrace Agriculture

  • In terrace agriculture, hill, and mountain slopes are cut to form terraces, and the land is used in the same way as in permanent agriculture.
  • Due to scarcity of the availability of flat land, terraces are made to provide small patches of level land.
  • It is also an effective way to check soil erosion due to terrace formation on hill slopes.

Challenges for Indian Agriculture

The challenges faced by Indian agriculture can be broadly grouped into two categories- the long-standing problems and the emerging issues from the prevailing agricultural practices, system, changing climate, and economy.

  • Stagnation in Production of Major Crops:¬†Production of some of the major staple food crops like rice and wheat has been stagnating for quite some time. This is a situation that is worrying our agricultural scientists, planners, and policymakers as it creates a huge gap between the demand of the ever-growing population and the production.
  • High cost of Farm Inputs:¬†Farm inputs include fertilizer, insecticide, pesticides, HYV seeds, farm labour cost, etc. Such an increase puts low and medium-land-holding farmers at a disadvantage.
  • Soil Exhaustion:¬†Green revolution has played a positive role in reducing hunger in India but has negative consequences also. One of which is¬†Soil exhaustion¬†which means the loss of nutrients in the soil from farming the same crop over and over again.
  • Ground Water depletion:¬†The second negative consequence of the green revolution is the depletion of fresh groundwater. Most of the irrigation in dry areas of Punjab, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh was carried out by excessive use of groundwater. Today fresh groundwater situation in these states is alarming.
  • Global Climatic Change:¬†It has been predicted that climate change‚Äôs impact on Indian agriculture would be immense. It is predicted that due to climate change, the temperature would increase, leading to an increase in sea level, more intense cyclones, unpredictable rainfall, etc. These changes would adversely affect the production of rice and wheat. Specifically, a rise in temperature in winter would affect the production of wheat in north India. Production of rice would be affected in coastal areas of India due to the ingress of saline water and an increase in the frequency of cyclones.
  • Impact of Globalisation: All developing countries have been affected by globalization. The most evident effect is the reduction in farmers‚Äô income and the threat to the viability of cultivation in India. This is due to the rising input costs and falling output prices. This reflects the combination of reduced subsidy and protection to farmers. Trade liberalization exposes these farmers to competition from highly subsidized production in the developed world.
  • Providing Food Security:¬†Before the introduction of the green revolution in India, we were not self-sufficient in terms of our food grain production. But last few decades agriculture is not growing with the increasing population and to ensure food security factors like accessibility, affordability as well nutritional value of the food available should be catered to.
  • Farmers Suicides:¬†The¬†farmer suicides¬†appear concentrated in regions of high commercialization of Indian agriculture and very high peasant debt. Cash crop farmers seemed far more vulnerable than those growing food crops. Commercialization of the countryside along with a massive decline in investment in agriculture was the beginning of the decline. Privatization of many resources has also compounded the problems.

Major crops grown in India:

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.


  • They occupy¬†about 54 percent¬†of the total cropped area in agriculture in India.¬†
  • India produces about 11 percent 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 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 ‚Äėaus‚Äô, ‚Äėaman‚Äô and ‚Äėboro‚Äô.¬†
  • 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 agriculture 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 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 agriculture 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.


  • 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 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 is a food as well as a fodder crop grown under¬†semi-arid climatic conditions¬†and over inferior soils. This crop occupies only about¬†3.6 percent¬†of the 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 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 percent¬†of the total cropped area in the Indian agriculture
  • .¬†
  • 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 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 Indian agriculture.
  • 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.


  • 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 Indian agriculture.
  • Main oilseeds crops grown in India:¬†Groundnut, rapeseed, and mustard, soyabean and sunflower.


  • 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 Indian agriculture.¬†
  • 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 percent of the total cropped area¬†in the Indian agriculture.¬†
  • 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 percent of the total output of soyabean in Indian agriculture.¬†
  • 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 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 ‚Äėnarma‚Äô 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 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 Indian agriculture
  • .

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


  • 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 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‚Äôs 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 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 percent¬†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-thirds of the total production of coffee in India.

Related Links:

Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY)PM-AASHA Scheme
Green Credit ProgramPrimary Agricultural Credit Society