Variation in cropping systems has been one of the main characteristics of Indian agriculture and it is credited to rain-fed agriculture and existing socio-economic condition of crop growing community. Fundamentally, cropping pattern entails the proportion of area under various crops at a point of time. Cropping pattern is, however, a dynamic notion as it changes over space and time.
Cropping systems of an area are decided by several soil and climatic parameters which determine overall agro-ecological setting for nourishment and appropriateness of a crop or set of crops for cultivation. However, at farmers’ level, potential productivity and financial benefits act as guiding principles while opting for a particular crop/cropping system.
These decisions with respect to choice of crops and cropping systems are further narrowed down under influence of several other forces related to infrastructure facilities, socio-economic factors and technological developments, all operating interactively at micro-level.
These factors are:
- Infrastructure facilities: Irrigation, transport, storage, trade and marketing, post-harvest handling and processing etc.
- Socio-economic factors: Financial resource base, land ownership, size and type of land holding, household needs of food, fodder, fuel, fibre and finance, and labour availability etc.
- Technological factors: Enhanced varieties, cultural requirements, mechanization, plant protection, access to information, etc.
Agriculture is an economic activity from which farmers earn their livelihood. Therefore, they first look for the economic viability of a crop within their socio-physical and political environment.
The cropping patterns differ from region to region. It depends on the land, topography, slope, temperature, amount and reliability of rainfall, soils and availability of water for irrigation. The perception and evaluation of environment is also important for guiding which crop should grow in certain region. Those areas of the world where physical diversities are less, the cropping patterns are less diversified.
For instance, in the rainfall scarce areas of Rajasthan (India), the farmers grow bajra (bulrush millet), while in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam rice is the dominant crop. Likewise, cotton is grown in the regur (black earth) soil of Maharashtra and Gujarat, while the loamy soils of western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab are ideally suited for wheat, rice and sugarcane crops.
Furthermore, the land occupancy, ownership of land, size of holdings and size of fields also enforce restrictions on the cropping patterns of a province. In the areas of small holdings, the farmers tend to be subsistent despite innovation diffusion. Dissimilar to this, the farmers with large holdings have more risk bearing capacity and they have relatively high degree of commercialization.
In most parts of India, agriculture is still mainly subsistent in character. As a result, the food grain crops occupy over 71 per cent of the gross cropped area. India grows almost each and every crop. Among the cereals rice and wheat rank first and second correspondingly. Cotton, Tobacco, Sugarcane and Oilseeds are the major cash crops.
Among the pulses, gram, lentil, black gram, green gram, pigeon peas are important. The subsistent cropping patterns of India are based on consumption of the natural fertility of the soil without the much use of contemporary inputs and technology. The areas in which HYV have been diffused successfully under the Green Revolution are, however, exceptions.
Crops grown in India
|Types of Crops
|Crops that are used for human consumption
|Rice, Wheat, Maize, Millets, Pulses and Oilseeds
|Crops which are grown for sale either in raw form or in semi-processed form
|Cotton, Jute, Sugarcane, Tobaccco and Oilseeds
|Crops which are grown on Plantations covering large estates
|Tea, Coffee, Coconut and Rubber
|Sections of agriculture in which Fruits and Vegetables are grown
|Fruits and Vegetables