Agriculture in India – Government Schemes for Agriculture Sector

Agriculture is one of the prominent thriving sectors of engagement and employment in India. Around 75% of the Indian population is occupied in agricultural activities. This overwhelming size of this segment engenders it to dominate the preliminary skills of cultivation and food production.

In fact, this sector employs a quarter of the Indian economy which constitutes around 60% of the rural workforce. This sector contributes to an annual GDP of 17-18%.

The history of Indian agriculture dates back to the Indus Valley civilization. Today, India features as the second largest country engaged in farming and ranks seventh in agricultural exports in foreign nations.

This article discusses the different factors pertaining to agriculture in India. It describes agricultural land utilization, types of agricultural practices, green revolution, soil and crops suitable for Indian agriculture, irrigation, land reforms, animal husbandry, and the various government schemes to support and promote agricultural activities in the country.

agriculture in India

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Land Utilization

Land utilization refers to the process of using agricultural land effectively in order to produce a cultivable yield. The land utilization procedure is inclusive of the production of goods such as crops, and services such as forest lands engendering rich biodiversity.

As per the government directive, land utilization must be systematic under strict monitoring to avoid its misuse for non-agricultural purposes. The agricultural land in India features around 157.35 million hectares, only next to the U.S.A.

Next, the agriculture land use in India depends upon the following factors:

  • The quality of land: It should be of good quality in order to bear fruitful agricultural produce.
  • Aspect of land ownership: this factor has a prominent social value in India as land furnishes an asset for security including land credits and property hazards.
  • Land accessibility: In order to make land productive, a farmer needs to have proper access to that landing while adhering to the government’s agricultural protocols.

In addition to the above, agricultural land can be classified into utilization categories as mentioned below:

  • Forestlands
  • Lands for non-agricultural uses (for installing manufacturing industries, roads, canals, shops, etc.)
  • Barren and wastelands (hilly terrains, desert lands, ravines, etc.)
  • Permanent pastures and grazing lands
  • Miscellaneous crops and groves (used for growing fruits and tree orchids)
  • Fallow lands (a land where agricultural activities take place after every alternate year, keeping a particular land on rest for one full year).
  • Culturable wastelands (lands which are put to agricultural use after five years of their barrenness).

Some other factors governing land use in India are as follows:

  • Size of the economy
  • Composition of the economy
  • Population and demography of a specific region
  • Division of land shares under forests, cultivable lands, fallow lands, and permanent pastures
  • Employment and occupation in the agricultural sector

Types of Agricultural Practices in India

India is a land of multiple farming systems. All farming activities in the country depend upon factors including land utilization, facilities of irrigation, and climatic conditions in a particular region. Some of the major agricultural practices carried in the country are as follows:

Subsistence Farming in India

  • It is one of the pivotal traditional and massively practiced farming activities in India.
  • In this, the entire family cultivates specific farmland.
  • Most of the farmer families are financially backward and therefore, they use natural manure and primitive tools while farming.
  • Facilities of irrigation and electricity are not available to them while farming.
  • They generally cultivate small-sized farmlands.
  • The family who cultivates mostly consume the yield privately and do not sell it in the market.
  • Not very high output is produced by subsistence farming.

Shifting Agriculture in India

  • This method of farming begins with deforestation.
  • After clearing up forest land, farmers carry the agricultural activities on it for the next 2-3 years.
  • This is because of the retardation in the fertility and soil quality of the farmland.
  • Post this set time period, they move to another forest land and carry out a similar process.
  • Shifting agriculture is referred to as Bera in Madhya Pradesh, Podu in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, Ponam in Kerala, and Jhum in Assam.
  • Crops such as paddy, millets, maize, vegetables, etc. are suitable for this kind of farming.

Plantation Agriculture in India

  • It is usually preferred for cultivating coffee, cocoa, soybeans, sugarcane, bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, coconuts, and vegetables.
  • Britishers introduced this agricultural method in the 19th century.
  • Mostly grown in tropical areas such as the Himalayan belts, the Nilgiri hills, Cardamom, and Annamalai hills.
  • Generally, the produce of plantation agriculture in India is exported to foreign countries.

Dry Agriculture (Dry Farming) in India

  • This method is practiced without irrigation.
  • Usually exercised in areas receiving an annual rainfall of less than 500-750 mm.
  • Dry agriculture promotes soil conservation
  • It also controls the cost of inputs and fertilizer purchases
  • It uses moisture as an active ingredient while carrying out cultivation.
  • Areas practicing this activity are Malwa Plateau Deccan Plateau, areas of Bihar and Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, etc.
  • The primary crops grown through dry agriculture are cotton, wheat, rice, groundnut, ragi, black gram, maize, soybean, chickpea, mustard, and taramira.

Mixed and Multiple Agriculture in India

  • It refers to the simultaneous cultivation of crops and animal husbandry.
  • In this, a farmer can grow multiple crops together at the same time
  • Good rainfall and irrigation facilities are paramount to this agricultural method.
  • It avoids a chance for complete crop failure (as one both crops may sustain).
  • Usually, leguminous crops are sown with the main crop.
  • This farming practice increases soil fertility.
  • Polyvarietal cultivation is a sub-part of mixed agriculture in India.
  • The crops grown through this method use nitrogen and transfer it back to the soil for the purpose of soil nourishment.
  • Much better than monocropping.

Crop Rotation in India

  • This procedure refers to the reiterative growing of crops, one after another.
  • It helps in maintaining soil fertility.
  • The time duration for crop rotation may be one year or even beyond that.
  • Usually, it starts with cereal crops like wheat and rice followed by pulses and legumes.
  • Legumes have an effective nitrogen-fixing ability.
  • Crops like tobacco and sugarcane can be grown afterward in cereal crops with the use of fertilizers.
  • Framers generally select their crops for this process by analyzing the local soil type.

Terrace Cultivation in India

  • Generally practiced on terraced mountain slopes and hill ranges.
  • In this, terraces are converted into small patches of cultivable lands due to a shortage of big lands for farming on hilly terrains.
  • The problem of soil erosion is minutely monitored in the case of terrace farming.
  • Effective in maximizing arable land regions.
  • A labor-intensive method of agriculture.
  • Reduces water loss and soil erosion.
  • An excellent method for cultivating water-intensive crops such as paddy and rice.
  • May lead to water saturation in case of heavy rainfall.
  • It is an expensive method of agriculture in India.
  • Soil leaching may reduce the quality of the soil.

Intensive Agriculture (Industrial Agriculture) in India

  • In this, farmers use a massive amount of fertilizers and pesticides to carry out their farming activities.
  • The mechanized and modern agricultural techniques (use of machines etc)are mandatory for intensive farming in India.
  • The Intensive Agriculture Development Program (IADP) was launched in 1961 by the Indian government.
  • The objective of IADP was to furnish a loan over the provision of seeds and fertilizers to farmers.
  • The Ford Foundation also insisted on the central government in this program.
  • Areas of Thanjavur, West Godavari, Aligarh, Raipur, Ludhiana, Pali, and western Shahabad were included in this program.

Commercial Agriculture in India

  • It uses high yielding variety (HYV) seeds for cultivation.
  • In addition, it also adds chemical fertilizers and pesticides to the cultivated plantations.
  • This method of farming generally results in high productivity.
  • It varies from one place to another. For example, Punjab and Odisha may have different commercial farming practices.
  • Punjab, Haryana, Odisha, and Karnataka are known for commercial farming.
  • This product is mainly for selling in the market and not for personal consumption.
  • Excellent transportation facilities are required to propagate this farming practice.
  • Processing industries play a major role in its development.

Green Revolution in India

The Green Revolution denotes a boon for Indian agriculture. A transition in the traditional agricultural practices, it refers to a period during the 1960s when Indian introduced the effective usage of high yielding variety (HYV) seeds. This technology raised the standard of Indian agriculture and modernized the level of farming and related activities.

Chemical fertilizers and pesticides were used in addition to HYV seeds under this agricultural process. This revolution positively impacted the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat. In short, this agricultural technique led to a massive increase of food cultivation in the country.

Merits of Indian Green Revolution

  • Solved the problem of food shortages
  • Introduction of loan schemes by the government to allow farmers to purchase HYV’s and other agricultural products.
  • Good earnings for average farmers
  • Installation of reliable irrigation systems

Demerits of Green Revolution in India

  • The demise of traditional agriculture in India.
  • Socio-economic inequalities.
  • The toxification of crops due to the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Environment depletion.
  • Reduction in the genetic diversity of plants.
  • Rural impoverishment.
  • Migration of small farmers.

Soil and Crops in India

Soil refers to the outermost layer of the earth’ surface. It is a natural formation consisting of humus, weathered rocks, minerals, water, air, and multiple gases. The quality of soil is a decisive factor to cultivate a good agricultural yield.

The following soil types feature on the Indian terrain:

Alluvial Soil in India

  • Usually found in the northern parts of India.
  • It covers around 35% of the total land.
  • Rich in humus and phosphoric acid.
  • Poor in nitrogen and potash.
  • Sandy and loamy in texture.
  • Suitable for growing wheat, rice, cotton, bajra, tobacco, barely, jute maize, sesamum, oilseeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Black Soil in India

  • Also known as regur or cotton soil.
  • Found in the Deccan Plateau.
  • Covers the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat.
  • Found in river basins of the Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Tapi, and Narmada.
  • Rich in magnesium, lime, iron, and aluminum.
  • Poor in various salts and humus.
  • Excellent in moisture.
  • Clayey and sandy in texture.
  • Good for growing cotton, rice, jowar, sugarcane, linseed, cereal crops, sunflower, groundnut. Tobacco, vegetables, etc.

Red and Yellow Soils in India

  • Generally found in the states of Chattisgarh, Odisha, Deccan Plateau, and the Western Ghats
  • Red and yellow in color due to the presence of iron oxide.
    Sandy and acidic
  • Rich in potash
  • Poor in phosphorus, nitrogen, magnesium, humus, and lime
  • Suitable for growing millets, rice, pulses, fruits and vegetables, mango, orange, potato, pulses, oilseeds, etc.

Laterite Soil in India

  • Usually found in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, and Kerala.
  • Acidic in nature.
  • Rich in iron.
  • Poor in humus, phosphate, calcium, and nitrogen.
  • Good for the cultivation of pulses, cashews, tea, coffee, rubber, coconut, etc.

Arid Soil in India

  • Found in deserts and the west of the Aravalli ranges.
  • Sandy and with low clay content.
  • Highly saline and rich in plant food.
  • Low in nitrogen.
  • Their color ranges from red to brown.
  • Suitable for growing Wheat, corn, maize, cotton, pulses, barley, etc.

Forest and Mountain Soils in India

  • Found in the Himalayan belt, Eastern and the Western Ghats, and the secreted parts of Peninsular Plateau.
  • Rich in humus.
  • Poor in lime, potash, and phosphorus.
  • Acidic in nature.
  • Cultivate well with a substantial amount of fertilizers.
  • Used for growing crops like coffee, barley, spices, maize, wheat, tropical and temperate fruits, etc.

Desert Soil in India

  • Contains nitrogen for crop growth and support if facilitated with a good amount of irrigation.
  • Millets and barely cultivate properly in this soil.

Agricultural Practices in India

Soil Preparation

  • The soil is prepared by plowing, manuring, and leveling before sowing of the main crops.
  • Ploughing helps in the appropriate aeration of the soil.
  • Leveling refers to the even distribution of the soil all around.
  • Manure is the natural component added for the soil for better crop yield.

Sowing

  • The selection of premium quality crops is a must for this process.
  • Farmers either do this manually or do it through machines.
  • Crops like paddy are sewed into a small area primarily and eventually added to the entire field.

Manuring

  • Manure are natural nutrients to increase yield of crops.
  • Manure is composed of decomposed plant and animal substances.
  • These components production is commercially for the agricultural market.
  • Manure may also include compounds such as fertilizers.
  • It helps in maintaining soil fertility and adds to its replenishment.
  • Apart from manure, leguminous plants, crop rotation, etc are other raise to enhance the fertility of the soil.

Weeding

  • Weeds refer to the unwanted plants which need removal to enhance the crop yield.
  • The application of weedicides to the agricultural field helps in this removal of weeds.
  • These can be easily pulled by hands during the preparation of the soil.

Harvesting

  • After sowing, cutting, and manuring of the crop, it is ready for harvesting.
  • In these processes, the farmers separate the grains from the chaff through threshing and winnowing.

Storage

  • Finally, the grains need to be stored properly after harvesting.
  • The harvested grains are stored in heavy bins placed within big godowns.
  • These grains also require to be protected against pests and rodents.
  • This protection is provided through drying, fuming, and fumigation processes.
  • Lastly, these grains are stored.

Irrigation in India

Irrigation refers to the supply of artificial water to effectively cultivate agricultural land. It stands crucial for carrying out farming activities in the country. India has an irrigation potential of around 139.5 MHA.

India requires excellent irrigation facilities for the following reasons:

  • Increase food production to feed the ever-growing population.
  • Monitor the uneven distribution of rainfall patterns leading to droughts and famines.
  • Channelizing the requirements of water.
  • Prevents water scarcity in high-temperature conditions.

India follows the following types of irrigation:

Tanks

  • Practiced on uneven terrains and rocky plateaus
  • Exercised in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
  • Tanks irrigate around 8% of the Indian mainland
  • However, due to excessive evaporation of water, tanks aren’t preferred for perennial water storage.

Wells

  • Less costly and affordable water storage options.
  • Generally utilized in northern plains and peninsular plateau regions
  • States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Wells are further divided into two types: open wells and tube wells.
  • Open wells are used for irrigating small size lands due to their small size.
  • For large areas, farmers use tube wells because of their deep structures.

Canals

  • A major source of irrigation in the country
  • Canals refer to huge water channels to collect water from rivers and transfer it too far off planes.
  • Canals are quite common in Punjab and Haryana for the purpose of irrigation
  • Western Yamuna Canal, Upper Bahari Doab canal, Lower Ganga canal are some famous canals in north India.

Land Reforms in India

Agricultural land reforms play a paramount function in a vast country like India. The Indian government has massively invested in the policies of landholding and ownership. This is because the maximum Indian population survives below the poverty line with small or no lands of their own.

In short, land reforms help in the smooth regulation of the operation, sales, easing, and inheritance of agricultural and farmlands. And over the years, the agrarian sector has brought major land reforms to cater for its development. Some of the key land reforms are as follows:

Market Surplus

  • With the advent of the Green Revolution, farmers are able to produce more yield and overcome the scarcity of food in India.
  • However, to reach this stage, the farmers also require to sell their produce in the market and make their products reachable to a wider public.
  • Market surplus refers to this agricultural produce that the farmers intend to sell in the market.

Abolition of Intermediaries

  • Due to the presence of multiple intermediaries, farmers are unable to earn and enjoy the complete profits on their agricultural yield.
  • With the government’s policy of the abolition of intermediaries, including the zamindari system, 2 crore farmers and small tenets are brought into direct contact with the government.

Rent Regulation

  • The government has fixed the terms and conditions for agrarian land rent in order to avoid its illegal usage.
  • As per policy, the land rent should not exceed 1/3rd of the total crop production.

Tenure Security

  • Most of the states provide security to small farmers and tenets working on crop fields.
  • This ensures job security to tenants under the state law
  • Also, the tenants are given a small land to cultivate by big farmers in the case of self-cultivation.

Consolidation of Holdings

  • Under this reform, a farmer can hold land at one particular place instead of holding scattered pieces of agrarian lands.
  • However, until now only 30% of the land is legally consolidated mostly in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.

Ceilings of Land Holdings

  • To distribute land equally, the government has put a limit on landholdings.
  • This refers to the maximum number of lands and their sizes each farmer can hold in India.
  • The surplus or left over land is subsequently distributed among small tenants and farmers.

Cooperative Farming

  • The farmers in a particular village are eligible to form a cooperative farming society.
  • This helps in the regular discussion and bargaining over farmlands among the various farmers.

Animal Husbandry in India

Animal Husbandry refers to an associate business in agricultural activities in India. It typically denotes the rearing of animal fisheries and the forest sector. It supports around 55% of the rural population.

India is one of the world’s largest livestock owners with around 535.78 million investment.

The purposes of this agricultural occupations are as follows:

  • Employment and income generation
  • The economic growth of the country
  • Women empowerment
  • Poverty alleviation
  • Food production and consumption
  • Social security to farmers and livestock owners

Importance of Animal husbandry

  • Production of milk, eggs, and mutton.
    1. Milk production: 176.34 million tons
    2. Egg production: 95.22 billion
    3. Meat production: 7.70 million tons
  • Sinks and fibres: production of wool, hides, pelts, and hairs. It produces around 45.1 million kg per annum.
  • Draft: Bullocks, camels, horses, and donkeys are useful for various agricultural activities in India
  • Animal waste and cow dung: Used as manure, fuel, biomass, and natural gas.
  • Weed control: to biologically control plants and weeds on farmlands.

Government Schemes in India

Here is a list of the major government schemes to boost up the agricultural sector in India:

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) in India

  • For enhancing agricultural productivity
  • Soil health management
  • Water use efficiency
  • Conservation of resources
  • Nutrient management
  • Diversification of agrarian livelihood

PM- Kisan Scheme

  • Launched on 1st December 2018
  • Around 120 million marginal and small farmers of India cover under this scheme
  • Each farm shall receive a land less than 2 hectares for farming
  • Total project budget if of 6,000 crores annually
  • The budget shall be released for farmers under three installments

Soil Health Card Scheme

  • Launched in the year 2015
  • State governments issued soil health cards to the farmers
  • The scheme checks the nutrient status of a farmland’s soil
  • For improvement of soil quality, the appropriate amount of nutrients are to be added by state governments
  • This further ensures soil’s fertility

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

  • A premium based scheme of the government of India
  • The farmers need to pay a maximum amount of 2% for Kharif, 1.5% for rabi, and around 5% for commercial crops which they cultivate in a year.
  • This scheme helps in quick and easy claim settlements.
  • The time period for settlement of claims is 2 months after the crop harvesting season

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maandhan Yojana

  • Launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in September 2019
  • It is a pensions scheme for medium and small farmers
  • Under the scheme, around 5 crore marginalized farmers shall receive a monthly pension of Rs. 3000
  • The farmers shall receive this amount after attaining the age of 60 years.
  • In addition, farmers would also be required to make a monthly contribution of Rs50- 2000, depending upon their entry age
  • The same amount shall be subsequently divided among the cultivators.

National Agriculture Market

  • It is an e-marketing platform to support problems related to farming infrastructure
  • This helps in revolutionizing agriculture in India via the online platform
  • It ensures the farmers to get an excellent remuneration for their agricultural activities
  • The slogan for this scheme is, “one nation one market).

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)

  • Launched on 1 July 2015
  • “Hat khet ko Pani,” “Jal Sanchay,” and Jal Sinchan” are some of its popular slogans
  • It provides irrigation benefits to farmers and cultivators
  • Implemented by the Ministries of Land and Water resources

Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme

  • Launched by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and
  • Fisheries in 2010
  • Also known as the Venture Capital Scheme for Dairy and Poultry (in 2006)
  • Its purpose is to foster structural changes in the dairy sector

Livestock Insurance Scheme

  • This scheme furnishes insurance benefits to farmers and animal rearers in case of any damage or loss of their livestock
  • It also explains the benefits of livestock farming and the advantages of insurance attached to it
  • Its aim is to achieve a qualitative improvement in livestock production

Rainfed Area Development Program (RADP)

  • It is a sub-scheme under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana
  • It helps farmers in getting the best yield out of their agricultural lands
  • Aims to increase agricultural productivity and develops viable means for sustainable development farming
  • It aids against famines, crop failures, droughts, and other inevitable damage and losses
  • It also generates a decent income and livelihood for small and medium farmers especially those located in the rainfed areas.

Conclusion

Altogether, the agrarian sector is the heart and soul of India. The government tries to help this sector in every possible way. This is because our farmers give their sweat and blood to farming activities so that we can eat healthily and live a sustainable lifestyle.

This article has detained the different agricultural practices, briefed livestock farming, delineated the importance of soil and crop production, and finally listed the various land reforms and government-aided schemes to motivate agricultural farming in India.

As a responsible citizen of the country, we must promote this sector to the best of our potential. In short, rural India is the real India and the pride of our developing nation.

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