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Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. The principal means of livelihood is agriculture for more than 58 percent of rural households. In the below article, we will go through the different types of agricultural methods in India and its implication on Indian economy.

Growth Drivers of Agriculture in India

The Indian food industry has immense potential of massive growth. Its contribution to world food trade every year is increasing due to its immense potential for value addition, particularly within the food processing industry. Indian holds sixth position in food and grocery market in the world’s, with retail contributing 70 per cent of the sales. 32 per cent of the country’s total food market is contributed by the food processing industry. It is one of the largest industries in India. It ranks fifth in terms of consumption, production, export and expected growth. 8.80 percent of Gross Value Added (GVA) in Manufacturing is contributed by it and 8.39 per cent in Agriculture, 6 per cent of total industrial investment and 13 per cent of India’s exports.

Types of agriculture in India

Based primarily on nature of the land, climatic characteristics and available irrigational facilities, the farmers in India practice different types of farming:

  1. Subsistence farming: This is one of the most popular farming techniques that can be seen in various parts of India. The farmer along with his family cultivates grains for themselves or for sale at the local market. The entire family works on the farm and most of the agricultural work is done manually here. Tradition methods of farming are followed by the farmers in their small farms. Since facilities like electricity and irrigation are generally not available to the poor farmers, they do not use fertilizers and high yielding variety of seeds in their fields to the extent they should do.
  1. Shifting Agriculture: This way of farming is widely used by the tribal groups to grow crops. First the land is obtained by clearing a forested area and then crops are planted. While the land loses its fertility, another area of land is cleared and the crops are shifted there. The commonly grown crops in this type of farming are dry paddy, maize, millets and vegetables. This practice is known by different name in different regions of India. For example, it is called Jhum in Assam, Ponam in Kerala, Podu in AP and Odisha, Bewar, masha, penda, and bera in MP. But since it causes extensive soil erosion, governments have tried to discourage this practice of cultivation by tribals.
  2. Plantation Agriculture: Plantations are only capable of producing a single crop which takes long time to grow. Plantation agriculture is practiced in Kerala, Assam, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. For example, rubber, tea, coffee, cocoa, spices, coconut and fruit crops like apples, grapes, oranges, etc. are grown by plantation agriculture. Since it is a capital intensive process, it requires good managerial ability, technical know-how and advanced machinery, fertilizers, irrigation, and transport facilities. It is an export-oriented agriculture and grown in plantation agriculture have a life cycle of more than two years.
  3. Intensive Agriculture: In areas where irrigation has been possible, the farmers use fertilizers and pesticides on large scale to bring their land under high yielding variety of seeds. It is also known as industrial agriculture. It involves higher use of inputs such as capital and labor per unit land area. This is where it differs from traditional agriculture where the inputs per unit land are lower.

The first major experiment of Indian government in the field of agriculture called the Intensive Agriculture Development program (IADP) was launched in 1961 to provide loan for seeds and fertilizers to farmers. Intensive Agriculture Development program was started with the assistance of Ford Foundation.

  1. Dry Agriculture: Dry land farming is practiced in the more arid and desert-like areas of the country, including northwest and central India. Crops such as gramjowar, bajra, and peas are grown in these conditions. Arid and semi-arid areas with rainfall between 750-1150mm and lower moisture availability for crops are chosen for such cultivation.
  1. Wet Agriculture: Many areas of India are affected by heavy monsoon rains and subsequent flooding. This is suitable in all the well-irrigated areas like those in the northeast India and the Western Ghats. Rice, jute, and sugarcane are cultivated in such mode of agriculture.
  1. Terrace Agriculture: The 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 patch of level land. Soil erosion is also checked due to terrace formation on hill slopes.

Road Ahead

Owing to increased investments in agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, warehousing and cold storage, it is expected that the agriculture sector in India will generate better momentum in the next few years. The government of India targets to increase the average income of a farmer household at current prices to Rs 2,19,724 by 2022-23 from Rs 96,703 in 2015-16.

These were the types of agriculture in India. Also check out our article on Food and Agriculture Organization here.

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