CBSE NCERT Class X (10th) | Social Studies | Geography

Chapter – 4 AGRICULTURE


Types of Farming

Shifting cultivation allows the soil to regain its fertility naturally but gives very poor yield to farmers and leads to large-scale destruction of forests. Crops like corn, rice and millets are grown in this type of farming.

Raw material from agriculture also supports a number of industries like cotton textiles, food processing and handicrafts.

Primitive subsistence farming:
  • Involves cultivating food crops in small fields essentially to sustain the farmer’s family.
  • Depends entirely on local soil and environment conditions and monsoons.
  • Involves hard manual labour.
  • Is slash-and-burn agriculture.
  • Allows the soil to regain its fertility naturally.
  • Gives very poor yield and leads to large-scale destruction of forests

Besides India, slash-and-burn or shifting cultivation is practised in many parts of the world and known by different names.

In India, the most popular name for such shifting cultivation is Jhumming, in many of our north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Another system of cultivation practised in India is called intensive subsistence farming. This system is practised in densely populated areas of Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh. The main purpose of intensive subsistence farming is to get maximum yield from the available land. Extensive irrigation methods and large quantities of chemical fertilisers are used in this system of farming.

Repeated division of land amongst successive generations of farmers decreases individual land holding, further encouraging farmers to use all available means to increase yield. Commercial farming is another system of cultivation.

This involves the cultivation of a crop in large quantities for the purpose of selling it in the market. This system uses high yielding seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Plantations of crops like tea in Assam and north Bengal, coffee in Karnataka, rubber in Kerala, and bamboo, sugarcane, cotton and banana, are also forms of commercial farming.

In these plantations, a single crop is cultivated over vast areas. The cultivation of a crop can be classified as commercial or subsistence farming, depending on the area where it is grown.

Cropping Seasons in India

Shifting cultivation allows the soil to regain its fertility naturally but gives very poor yield to farmers and leads to large-scale destruction of forests. Crops like corn, rice and millets are grown in this type of farming.

Raw material from agriculture also supports a number of industries like cotton textiles, food processing and handicrafts.

Primitive subsistence farming:
·         Involves cultivating food crops in small fields essentially to sustain the farmer’s family.
·         Depends entirely on local soil and environment conditions and monsoons.
·         Involves hard manual labour.
·         Is slash-and-burn agriculture.
·         Allows the soil to regain its fertility naturally.
·         Gives very poor yield and leads to large-scale destruction of forests

Besides India, slash-and-burn or shifting cultivation is practised in many parts of the world and known by different names.

In India, the most popular name for such shifting cultivation is Jhumming, in many of our north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Another system of cultivation practised in India is called intensive subsistence farming. This system is practised in densely populated areas of Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh. The main purpose of intensive subsistence farming is to get maximum yield from the available land. Extensive irrigation methods and large quantities of chemical fertilisers are used in this system of farming.

Repeated division of land amongst successive generations of farmers decreases individual land holding, further encouraging farmers to use all available means to increase yield. Commercial farming is another system of cultivation.

This involves the cultivation of a crop in large quantities for the purpose of selling it in the market. This system uses high yielding seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Plantations of crops like tea in Assam and north Bengal, coffee in Karnataka, rubber in Kerala, and bamboo, sugarcane, cotton and banana, are also forms of commercial farming.

In these plantations, a single crop is cultivated over vast areas. The cultivation of a crop can be classified as commercial or subsistence farming, depending on the area where it is grown.

Major Crops

India is the second largest producer of rice in the world. Rice is a kharif crop that requires a high temperature and humidity and more than 100 cm of rainfall for proper growth. Wheat is a rabi crop that requires cool weather for growth and warm weather for ripening with 50 to 75 cm of rainfall.

Maize is majorly a kharif crop and grows well in old alluvial soils at moderate temperature from 21 to 27 degrees Celsius.

Food grains, like jowar, bajra and ragi, are together called coarse grains or millets.  Coarse grains are also used as animal feed. Jowar, also called sorghum, is the third most important food grain grown in India. This is a rain-fed crop that requires little or no irrigation.

Bajra grows well in shallow black soils and sandy soils of Rajasthan. Finger millet or ragi is known for its high nutritional value. Ragi grows well in almost all types of soils, like red, black, sandy or loamy soil.

Pulses are hardy crops that grow well in dry weather and are grown in rotation with other crops. This is because the roots of all pulses, have nitrogen-fixing nodules that help restore soil fertility.

India is the second largest producer of sugarcane in the world. Sugarcane grows in many different kinds of soils. The crop takes almost a year to mature and requires a hot, humid climate with around 75 to 100 cm of rainfall. Groundnut, coconut, mustard, sesame, soybean, linseed, and castor, cotton and sunflower seeds are major oilseeds cultivated in India.

Groundnut is a kharif crop, while linseed and mustard are rabi crops. Castor seeds are grown in both the rabi and kharif seasons. Sesame is a rabi crop in southern India and a kharif crop in northern India. Groundnut requires accounts for about 50% of the total oilseeds produced in India.

Tea and coffee are beverage crops grown as plantation crops. A tea plant is a bush that grows in deep, fertile, well-drained soil and requires warm and humid climate with frequent showers for continuous growth.

The Arabica variety of coffee grown in India is appreciated the world over for its superior quality. India ranks first in the production of fruits and vegetables in the world. Latex and is derived from a non-food plantation crop called rubber. Rubber trees grow well in regions with hot and humid climate and over 200 cm of rainfall every year.

While cotton, jute and hemp are grown as fibre crops, silk is obtained from cocoons of silkworms fed on mulberry leaves. Cotton grows well in the black soil of the Deccan Plateau and is a kharif crop which requires a high temperature and light rainfall or irrigation for proper growth. Jute grows well on fertile well-drained soils in regions where flood waters renew the topsoil every year. The crop requires a high temperature for proper growth.

Technological and Institutional Reforms

The main problems faced by farmers in India are:
  • Fragmentation of land holdings by successive inheritance
  • Primitive methods of farming
  • Dependence on monsoon and natural fertility of soil
  • Exploitation by local money lenders and middlemen
  • Lack of insurance against natural calamities

The technological and institutional changes initiated in India to improve the condition of farmers include:

The land reforms initiated in the first five-year plan aimed to:
  • abolish zamindari and
  • consolidate land holdings. The consolidation of land holdings involved combining adjacent small fields into single large farms and encouraging individual land owners to do cooperative farming.

Agricultural reforms in the 1960s and 1970s known as the green revolution in India:
  • Providing high yielding varieties of seeds and fertilisers to farmers, and
  • Developing large-scale irrigation facilities to allow them to grow two crops in a year.
  • Continued expansion of farming areas.

White revolution:
  • Doctor Verghese Kurien is credited with architecting Operation Flood -- the largest dairy development programme in the world.

The government launched a comprehensive land development programme in the 1980s and 1990s:
  • Insurance cover to farmers against damage to crops and
  • Setting up of rural banks and cooperative societies to provide them loans on easy rates of interest.

The government also started broadcasting radio and television programmes to educate farmers about new techniques of agriculture and give them prior warning about weather conditions. To stop the exploitation of farmers by middlemen, the government announced the procurement, remunerative and minimum support prices of all the major crops in India.

The government also launched personal benefit schemes for farmers, like the Kisan Credit Card and the Personal Accident Insurance Scheme. Under the Land Ceiling Act by government no individual or family could own more than a certain quantum of land.

Contribution of Agriculture to Economy

Agriculture provides employment to around 63% of our total population. However, the share of agriculture in our gross domestic product or GDP is declining. A decrease in the share of agriculture in our GDP does not mean that our agricultural output has decreased. It means that the growth in agriculture is slowing down and is much lower as compared to the growth in industries and services.

The slowing down of growth in agriculture is generating fewer employment opportunities in this sector. The government set up institutions like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, I-C-A-R, and the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, I-A-R-I, and several agricultural, veterinary and horticulture universities.

The aim of these institutions is to provide education, and research and development facilities for the modernisation and growth of agriculture in India. The government has developed better meteorological facilities for more dependable weather forecasts, and improved infrastructure in villages.

Regardless of the above, farmers still face certain challenges in agriculture. One of the important steps in the green revolution in India was to make fertilisers available to farmers at subsidised or reduced rates. The subsidy on fertilisers has now been reduced and has increased the cost of production for the farmers.

A reduction in import duties on agricultural items is another challenge to the Indian farmers in terms of international competition. Inadequate irrigation and power facilities for the farmers is also an issue. Rural infrastructure facilities like roads and markets also need to be further developed.

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