Agriculture

Introduction to Agriculture

We often hear that India is an agricultural country. This basically means that agriculture is an important part of our livelihood. In India, agriculture is our primary economic activity and about two-thirds of our population is engaged in the same. Let us get acquainted with types of farming done in India.

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Agriculture

The word agriculture is derived from a Latin word- ager or agri meaning soil, and ‘culture’ meaning cultivation of the soil. In modern terms, agriculture comprises “the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and rearing livestock.”

You can consider farming to be rather a complete system which includes inputs, processing, and outputs. The inputs here are seeds, fertilizers, machinery, which then, undergoes operations like ploughing, sowing, irrigation, weeding, and harvesting. And thus, we get the final outputs like crops, dairy and poultry products.

Subsistence Farming

Subsistence Farming– This is farming which is done for consumption of the farm owners, can be either Primitive or Intensive. Here the only aim is to fulfil the needs of the farmer and his family.

Primitive subsistence farming is the type of subsistence farming that is typically done on small areas of land with traditional tools like hoe, dao, digging sticks etc. This is rather the most natural method of growing crops, because, the natural environment like heat, rain, wind and condition of the soil contribute to the growth of crops. Primitive farming further includes:

  • Shifting cultivation: In this primitive method, farmers clear the cultivated land, after harvesting the crops and burn the land. As a result, they maintain the fertility of the soil, so whoever uses the land next can get a good yield. This method is known by different names in different regions of India. Shifting cultivation is also practised in some countries in South America and South East Asia
  • Nomadic herding: This kind of farming method involves herders and farmers travelling from place to place with their flocks of animals. And, the herders also source wool, meat, hide and dairy products from the livestock. Nomadic herding is very common in Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir with herders rearing sheep, goats, yaks, and camel.

Intensive subsistence farming is quite in contrast to primitive farming, farmers practice intensive farming on wider areas of land, use modern machinery and tools and add chemical fertilizers for better crops.

agriculture

Commercial Farming

When farmers grow crops and rear animals for economic activity, it becomes Commercial Farming. Due to the need for a high amount of output, farmers cultivate larger areas of land, with heavy use of machinery. Commercial Farming has three main categories:

  • Commercial grain farming– Just as the name suggests, in this method, farmers grow grains and trade them in the market. Wheat and maize are the most common crops of commercial grain farming. Farmers of Asia, Europe, temperate grasslands of North America generally practice this type of farming.
  • Plantation farming– Plantation farming is a mix of agriculture and industry and is practised across a vast area of land. Plantation owners usually grow a single crop like banana, coffee, tea etc. in a plantation and use technological support to process the crop on the farm itself or a factory attached to it. The end product also works as a raw material for industries. For example, the rubber industry uses the rubber produced from its plantation as raw material.
  • Mixed farming– This farming method involves cultivation of crops, rearing livestock and growing their fodder. It is a common practice in parts of USA, Australia, and New Zealand, Europe, and South Africa to do mixed farming for a living.

Major Crops of India

With different kinds of farming methods to our knowledge, the farmers grow different kinds of crops, from staple grains to industrial crops and plants.

  • Rice – This is the staple food crop of the world. In India rice grows in areas with high heat, humidity, and rainfall, like in West Bengal, Kerala and parts of North East. Around the world, China is a leading producer of rice, followed by India, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
  • Wheat – This is another staple food in the world which needs moderate temperature. Wheat needs good rainfall during planting and strong sunshine while harvesting. As a result, wheat in India mostly grows in the winter season, and in the northern states of the country.
  • Maize – Like wheat, maize also needs moderate rainfall and a good amount of sunshine. Countries like North America, Mexico, China, Russia, Brazil, Canada, and India are primary producers of maize.
  • Millets – They need low rainfall and dry soil and comprise grains like jowar, bajra and raagi. Millets are common in Nigeria, China and dry areas of India.
  • Cotton – A plantation crop, cotton is the main raw material for the cotton textile industry. It grows best on black and alluvial soil, with low rainfall, no snow, and bright sunshine. Countries like Egypt, China, Pakistan, USA, and India are leading producers of cotton.
  • Jute – Also called ‘golden crop’, jute grows best in tropical regions, where rainfall is high and the weather is humid. Hence you will find jute cultivation is common in the coastal areas of India and Bangladesh.
  • Tea – It is a plantation crop and an important beverage across Asia. Tea grows best in a sloping landscape where rainfall is even all around the year and temperatures are cool and not too high. China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka are the major countries to produce the best tea in the world.
  • Coffee – Coffee grows best in a warm and wet climate and on well-drained soil. Hence, countries like Brazil, Columbia, and India have the best coffee plantations in the world.

Solved Questions for You

Q1. What is plantation farming?

Plantation farming is a type of commercial farming. It involves farming on large areas of land to maximize output and profits. This type of farming requires huge capital and involves extensive labour. Some crops grown in plantations are rubber, coffee, cotton, sugarcane etc.

Q2. What are the cash crops farmers cultivate in India?

Ans: Some of the major cash crops grown by Indian farmers are Sugarcane, Jute, Tobacco, and Oilseeds

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