Types of Farming in India
Primitive Subsistence Farming: This type of farming is practiced on small patches of land. Primitive tools and family/community labour are used in this type of farming. The farming mainly depends on monsoon and natural fertility of soil. Crops are grown as per the suitability of the environmental condition.
This is also called ‘slash and burn’ agriculture. A patch of land is cleared by slashing the vegetation and then the slashed plants are burnt. The ash; thus obtained is mixed with the soil and crops are grown.
This type of farming produces just enough crops to sustain the family. After a couple of seasons, the patch is left fallow and a new patch of land is prepared for farming. This allows the earlier patch of land to replenish its fertility through the natural process.

Different Names of Slash and Burn Farming:

Slash and Burn Farming in India
Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland
Bastar (Chhattisgarh) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Bewar or Dahiya
Madhya Pradesh
Podu or Penda
Andhra Pradesh
Pama Dabi or Koman or Bringa
Western Ghats
Valre or Waltre
South eastern Rajasthan
Himalayan belt


Although there are different names for slash and burn farming in different regions of India, the name 'Jhum Cultivation' or Jhuming is commonly used in this context. The following table shows various names for slash and burn farming in different countries.

Slash and Burn Farming in World


Mexico and Central America
Central Africa

Intensive Subsistence Farming:
This type of farming is practiced in densely populated areas. This involves high degree of use of biochemical inputs and irrigation. There is huge pressure of population on this type of farming.
Problems of Intensive Farming: Division of land through successive generation leads to plot size getting smaller and smaller. This makes it impossible to properly manage the farm inputs. Moreover, large-scale farming is not possible in that case.

Commercial Farming:
This type of farming is done with the sole purpose of selling the farm produce. Various modern inputs are used in this type of farming, e.g. HYV(High Yielding Variety) seeds, chemical fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides. Punjab, Haryana, Western UP and some parts of Maharashtra are the areas where commercial farming is done on large scale. However, this type of farming is also done in many other states; like Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, etc.

Plantation: In this type of farming, a single crop is grown on a large area. Plantation requires intensive capital and a large number of workers. Most of the produce from a plantation is used in various industries. tea, coffee, rubber, sugarcane, banana, etc. are important plantation crops. Tea is mainly produced in the tea gardens of Assam and North Bengal, coffee is produced in Tamil Nadu, and banana is produced in Bihar and Maharashtra. Plantation requires a well developed network of transport and communication, processing industries and a good market.

India has three cropping seasons — rabi, kharif and zaid.

Rabi: Rabi crops are also known as winter crops. They are sown from October to December and harvested from April to June. Wheat, barley, pea, gram and mustard are the important rabi crops. Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhan and Uttar Pradesh are the important producers of rabi crops.

Kharif: Kharif crops are also known as summer crops. They are sown at the beginning of monosoon and harvested in September-October. Paddy, maize, jowar, bajra, tur, moong, urad, cotton, jute, groundnut and soyabean are important kharif crops. Assam, West Bengal, coastal regions of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are important rice growing states. In Assam, West Bengal and Orissa; three crops of paddy are grown in a year. These are called Aus, Aman and Boro.

Zaid: The zaid season falls in between the rabi and kharif seasons. Watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber, vegetables and fodder crops are some of the crops grown in this season. Sugarcane is planted in this season but takes almost a year to grow.

Major Crops

Rice: India is the second largest producer of rice; after China. It requires high temperature (above 25°C), high humidity and annual rainfall above 100 cm. However, it can be grown with the help of suitable irrigation in areas of less rainfall. Rice is grown in the northern plains, northeast India, coastal areas and deltaic regions. Now-a-days, rice is also grown in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and in parts of Rajasthan. This has been possible because of development of a dense network 
of canals.

Wheat: Wheat is the main food crop in north and north-western parts of India. Wheat needs 50 to 75 cm of annual rainfall which should be evenly distributed over the growing season. The Ganga-Sutlej plains in the northwest and black soil region of Deccan are the two important wheat-growing zones in India. Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and parts of Madhya Pradesh are the important wheat producing regions.

Millets: Jowar, bajra and ragi are the important millets grown in India. Millets are known as coarse grains, but they have very high nutritional value.
a. Jowar: Maharashtra is the largest producer of jowar; followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Jowar grows in moist areas and hardly needs irrigation.
b. Bajra: Bajra grows well on sandy soil and shallow black soil. Rajasthan is the largest producer of bajra; followed by Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.
c. Ragi: Ragi grows in dry regions on red, black, sandy loamy and shallow black soils. Karnataka is the largest producer of ragi; follower by Tamil Nadu.

Maize: Maize is used both as food and fodder. It grows well in old alluvial soil and requires a temperature range of 21°-27°C. Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are the major maize-producing states.

Pulses: India is the largest producer of pulses in the world. It is also the largest consumer of pulses. Pulses are usually produced in rotation with other crops. UP, MP, Rajasthan and Karnataka are the major pulse-producing states.

Sugarcane: Sugarcane needs hot and humid climate. It requires temperature range of 21°-27°C and rainfall of 75 cm to 100 cm. India is the second largest producer of sugarcane, while Brazil is the number one. Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana are major sugar producing states.

Oilseeds: India is the largest producer of oilseeds. Groundnut, mustard, coconut, sesame, soyabean, castor, cotton seeds, linseed and sunflower are the main oilseeds grown in India.

Groundnut: Groundnut accounts for about half of the major oilseeds produced in the country. Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of groundnut; followed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Groundnut is a kharif crop. Linseed and mustard are rabi crops. Sesame is a kharif crop in north and rabi crop in south. Castor is grown both as rabi and kharif crops.

Tea: Tea plants grow well in tropical and sub-tropical climates; in deep and fertile well drained soil. The soil should be rich in humus and organic matter. Tea is a labour intensive industry. Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are major tea-producing states. The hills of Darjeeling are famous for the unique quality of tea produced there. India is the leading producer of tea in the world.

Coffee: Coffee is also grown in plantations. Initially, the Arabica variety was brought from Yemen and produced in India. The cultivation of coffee was initially introduced on the Baba Budan Hills.

Others: India is a producer of tropical as well as temperate fruits. Mangoes of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, oranges of Nagpur and Cherrapunjee (Meghalaya), bananas of Kerala, Mizoram, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, lichi and guava of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, pineapples of Meghalaya, grapes of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, apples, pears, apricots and walnuts of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are in great demand the world over.

Horticulture Crops: India is the largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world. India produces about 13 per cent of the world’s vegetables. It is an important producer of pea, cauliflower, onion, cabbage, tomato, brinjal and potato.

Non-Food Crops

Rubber: Rubber is a crop of equatorial region but it is also grown tropical and subtropical regions. It needs moist and humid climate with rainfall more than 200 cm. A temperature range above 25°C is required for rubber plantation. In India, rubber is mainly grown in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andaman & Nicobar islands and also in the Garo hills of Meghalaya. India is the fifth largest rubber producer in the world.

Cotton: India is the third-largest producer of cotton. Cotton grows in dry pats of black cotton soil of the Deccan plateau. High temperature, light rainfall or irrigation, 210 frost-free days and bright sunshine are required for the growth of cotton. The crop requires 6 to 8 months to mature. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are the main cotton producing states.

Jute: Jute needs well-drained fertile soils of the flood plains. West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa and Meghalaya are the major jute producing states.

Bhoodan – Gramdan & Land Reforms
Land reform was the main focus of the First Five Year Plan. Vinoba Bhave started the Bhoodan Andolan to encourage big landlords to donate a part of their land to the landless farmers. Many people came out in support of Vinoba Bhave and donated land.
Small plot size hampers proper farm management. To improve the condition, the government brought certain measures for land reform. In some states, land was redistributed so that all of the land owned by a farmer could come on a single plot. The reform was successful in some states (like Punjab and UP) but could not be implemented throughout the country, because of poor response by farmers.

Green Revolution: Green Revolution was started in the 1960s and 1970s to improve farm output. Use of new technology and HYV seeds was encouraged. Green revolution produced very good results; especially in Punjab and Haryana.

White Revolution: White Revolution (Operation Flood) was initiated to improve milk production in the country.
A comprehensive land development programme was launched in the 1980s and 1990s. These programmes included both institutional and technical reforms. Provision for crop insurance was made against drought, flood, cyclone, fire and disease. Gramin banks and cooperative societies were opened in rural areas so that farmers could get access to loan facilities.
Kissan Credit Card (KCC), Personal Accident Insurance Scheme (PAIS) and many other schemes were introduced for the benefit of farmers.
The government owned radio and TV channels broadcast special weather bulletins and agricultural programmes. Government also announced MSP (Minimum Support Price) so that farmers can be saved from exploitation by middlemen.

Current Scenario: The growth in agricultural sector is going down. Reduction in import duties on agricultural products means that farmers are facing tough competition from international markets. Investment is not coming into agriculture and hence employment opportunities are also showing de-growth in this sector.
The share of agriculture in GDP has being declining from 1951 onwards. Yet it continues to be the largest employer. About 63% of the total workforce was employed in agriculture in 2001. A decline agriculture can be an alarming situation because it has wider implications for the whole economy.
Government is making continuous efforts to modernize agriculture. ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), agricultural universities, veterinary services, animal breeding centres, horticulture development, R& D in the field of meteorology, etc. are given top priority with an aim to improve Indian agriculture. Government is also taking measures to improve rural infrastructure.

Food Security
In order to ensure food security to all sections of society, the government has carefully designed a national food security system. It has two components:

Buffer Stock: Once the government procures food grains through FCI (Food Corporation of India), buffer stock is maintained at various locations. This stock is utilised in case of food shortage at any place. This stock is also utilised in case of natural disasters; like flood and drought.

Public Distribution System: PDS is a programme which provides food grains and other essential commodities at subsidised prices to poor people in rural and urban areas. A person needs to get a ratio card made to avail the benefits of PDS. Separate cards are made for BPL (Below Poverty Line) and APL (Above Poverty Line) families. The PDS is also fed by the FCI.

Shifting Agricultural Pattern:
More and more farmers are now shifting towards cultivation of fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and industrial crops. While this is good from a farmer’s income perspective, it is dangerous for food security in the country.

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