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Geography > Agriculture > Farming in India
Agriculture

Farming in India

The Indian farmer had discovered and begun farming many spices and sugarcane more than 2500 years ago. Did you know that our country is the 2nd largest producer of agricultural products in the world? In fact, agriculture contributes as much as 6.1% (as of 2017) to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Let us find out about the different methods adopted by an Indian farmer and how it helps him grow all the variety of crops that we consume and export.

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Agricultural Methods of the Indian Farmer

Farming is one of the oldest economic activity in our country. Different regions have different methods of farming. However, all these methods have significantly evolved over the years with changes in weather and climatic conditions, technological innovations and socio-cultural practices. Farming methods prevalent in India can be classified as follows

Primitive Subsistence Farming

Indian Farmer

This is a primitive farming method and farmers still practice it in some parts of the country. While this type of subsistence farming is typically done on small areas of land, it also uses indigenous tools like a hoe, Dao, digging sticks, etc. Usually, a family or the local community of Indian farmers are engaged in this farming method who use the output for their own consumption. This is the most natural method, where the growth of crops but dependent on the rain, heat, fertility of the soil and other environmental conditions.

The key to this farming technique is the ‘slash and burn’ method. In this practice, once the crops are grown and harvested, the farmers burn the land. They then move to a clear patch of land for a new batch of cultivation. As a result, the land gains back its fertility, naturally. Because no fertilizers are used for cultivation, the primitive subsistence method yields good quality crops and also retains the properties of the soil.

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Different names of this farming method are:

  • ‘Jhumming’ in the North-Eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Pamlou district of Manipur, Bastar district of Chattisgarh, and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • ‘Bewar’ or ‘Dahiya’ in Madhya Pradesh
  • ‘Podu’ or ‘Penda’ in Andhra Pradesh,
  • ‘Pama Dabi’ or ‘Koman’ or Bringa’ in Orissa
  • ‘Kumari’ in the Western Ghats
  • ‘Valre’ or ‘Waltre’ in South-eastern Rajasthan
  • ‘Kuruwa’ in Jharkhand and
  • ‘Khil’ in the Himalayan region

Crops grown: Some of the crops grown through the primitive method are bananas, cassava, rice, maize, and millet.

Learn more about the Agriculture in India here.

Intensive Subsistence Farming

This is yet another variation of subsistence farming. In this method, cultivation happens across larger areas of land and thus, it is labor-intensive. Also, to get a high quantity of produce chemical fertilizers and different irrigation methods are used to yield more crops.

Crops grown: Intensive subsistence farming yields two types of crops- wet and dry. While the wet crops include paddy, the dry ones vary from wheat, pulses, maize, millets, to sorghum, soya-beans, tubers, and vegetables.

Commercial Farming

This type of farming is what contributes to the country’s economy with huge volumes of yield. In fact, the crops grown commercially in India are used as an export item across the world.

In this farming method, the Indian farmer uses a high amount of fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides to enhance and maintain the growth of the crops. Depending on the crop best suited to the respective weather and soil, commercial farming in India varies across different regions.

For example, Haryana, Punjab and West Bengal grow rice commercially, while it is a subsistence crop in Orissa. Major crops grown commercially in India are wheat, pulses, millets, maize and other grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Another method of commercial farming is ‘plantation’. Plantation farming is a blend of agriculture and industry, practiced across a vast area of land. It is a labor-intensive farming method that also uses the latest technological support for sustaining, cultivating and yielding. The produce yielded from plantations is treated as raw materials to be subsequently used in their respective industries.

Crops grown: Some of the significantly grown crops in plantation farming are tea, coffee, rubber, sugarcane, banana, coconuts, etc

Solved Questions for You

Q: What is primitive subsistence farming called in different regions of India?

Ans. Different regions of India call primitive subsistence farming by different names:

  • Jhumming’ in the North-Eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Pamlou district of Manipur, Bastar district of Chattisgarh, and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • ‘Bewar’ or ‘Dahiya’ in Madhya Pradesh
  • ‘Podu’ or ‘Penda’ in Andhra Pradesh
  • ‘Pama Dabi’ or ‘Koman’ or Bringa’ in Orissa
  • ‘Kumari’ in the Western Ghats
  • ‘Valre’ or ‘Waltre’ in South-eastern Rajasthan
  • ‘Kuruwa’ in Jharkhand
  • ‘Khil’ in the Himalayan region

Q: What is the basic difference between subsistence farming and commercial farming?

Ans. Subsistence farming is a traditional and indigenous method of cultivation. In this method, the farmer is involved in agriculture with the family or the community. On the other hand, Commercial farming is more of an industrial level farming method. In commercial farming, the objective of the Indian farmer is to contribute to the country’s economy while he also exports the agricultural produce.

Subsistence methods do not use fertilizers or technological support for cultivation or irrigation. On the contrary, commercial farming is heavily dependent on the use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides and other technology-driven machines and equipment to get a higher yield.

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Diffrenciate between primitive subsistence farming and intensive subsistance farming

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