The Agro Climatic zone strategy is meant for adequate economic and agricultural development. Not only agriculture but allied activities such as poultry, animal husbandry, the practice of crop diversification, rotation are to be given adequate priority. Similarly, area-specific agro-processing clusters and Agro-based industries must be promoted to augment the farmer’s income and socio-economic development.
Agro-climatic classification is based on various scientific principles taking into consideration several constituent variables. Therefore, it is necessary that agriculture and farming should be tuned to the needs and available resources. Integrated farming, agroforestry, sustainable agriculture, hydroponics are the emerging revolutionary practices that must be prompted along with policy directives.
Concerted efforts are required to overcome these challenges and mainstreaming millets by diversifying production technologies, building forward and backward linkages, nurturing the start-up eco-system and bringing millets to the food plates of all.
Agro-climatic regions by the erstwhile Planning Commission
The Planning Commission, as a result of the mid-term appraisal of the planning targets of the Seventh Plan, has divided the country into fifteen broad agro-climatic zones based on physiography, soils, geological formation, Climate, cropping patterns, and development of irrigation and mineral resources for broad agricultural planning and developing future strategies. These are further divided into more homogeneous 72 sub-zones. Fourteen regions were in the main land and the remaining one in the islands of Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
The main objective was to integrate plans of the agro-climatic regions with the state and national plans to enable policy development based on techno-agro-climatic considerations. In the agro-climatic regional planning, further sub-regionalization was possible based on agro-ecological parameters.
What are the Primary Objectives of Agro Climatic Zone Classification?
- To optimise agricultural production.
- To increase farm income.
- To generate more rural employment.
- To make judicious use of the available irrigation water.
- To reduce the regional inequalities in the development of agriculture.
What are the Climatic Zones?
The geographical area of India is divided into 15 agro-climatic regions. These are further divided into more homogeneous 72 sub-zones. The 15 agro-climatic zones are:
- Zone 1 – Western Himalayan Region: Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh
- Zone 2 – Eastern Himalayan Region: Assam, Sikkim, West Bengal and all North-Eastern states
- Zone 3 – Lower Gangetic Plains Region: West Bengal
- Zone 4 – Middle Gangetic Plains Region: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar
- Zone 5 – Upper Gangetic Plains Region: Uttar Pradesh
- Zone 6 – Trans-Gangetic Plains Region: Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan
- Zone 7 – Eastern Plateau and Hills Region: Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal
- Zone 8 – Central Plateau and Hills Region: MP, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh
- Zone 9 – Western Plateau and Hills Region: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
- Zone 10 – Southern Plateau and Hills Region: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu
- Zone 11 – East Coast Plains and Hills Region: Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry
- Zone 12 – West Coast Plains and Ghat Region: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra
- Zone 13 – Gujarat Plains and Hills Region: Gujarat
- Zone 14 – Western Dry Region: Rajasthan
- Zone 15 – The Islands Region: Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep
Adding millets to our diet can bring several health benefits:
Nutritional value: Millets are rich in essential nutrients, including dietary fiber, protein, vitamins (such as vitamin B-complex, vitamin E), and minerals (such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium). They provide a good balance of macronutrients and micronutrients, making them a nutritious addition to our meals.
High in fiber: Millets are a great source of dietary fiber, which is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system. The fiber content in millets can aid in digestion, prevent constipation, and promote bowel regularity.
Gluten-free: Millets are naturally gluten-free, making them an excellent choice for individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. They can be used as an alternative grain for those who need to follow a gluten-free diet.
Low glycemic index: Millets generally have a low glycemic index, meaning they cause a slower and steadier rise in blood sugar levels compared to refined grains. This can be beneficial for managing blood sugar levels, preventing sudden spikes, and maintaining overall glycemic control.
Weight management: Millets can be a helpful addition to weight management diets. The high fiber content in millets promotes a feeling of fullness, reducing the urge to overeat. They also have a lower calorie density compared to certain other grains, making them a satisfying and nutritious choice for those watching their calorie intake.
Heart health: Millets contain a good amount of heart-healthy nutrients, such as magnesium and potassium. These minerals contribute to maintaining normal blood pressure levels and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Antioxidant properties: Some millets, such as finger millet (ragi) and foxtail millet, have antioxidant properties due to the presence of compounds like phenolic acids and flavonoids. These antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and protect against various chronic diseases.
Versatility: Millets come in different varieties, including pearl millet (bajra), finger millet (ragi), foxtail millet, and sorghum. They can be used in a variety of dishes, including porridge, pilaf, upma, salads, and baked goods, providing versatility and adding a unique flavor and texture to our meals.
Dairy is the single largest agricultural commodity contributing 5 per cent of the national economy. As an industry, it employs more than 80 million people, with the majority being small and marginal farmers as well as the landless. Further, women constitute the major workforce of the dairy sector in the country. The sector is an important job provider, especially for women, and plays a leading role in women’s empowerment.
Today, India is the largest producer of milk in the world, contributing 24% of global milk production. The milk production of India has registered over 61 per cent increase from 137.7 million tonnes in 2013-14 to 221.1 million tonnes in 2021-22. Moreover, the per-capita availability of milk has increased from 303 gram/day in 2013-14 to 444 gram/day in 2021-22, nearly 1.5 times increase.
Nutritional Security: Dairy farming plays a vital role in ensuring nutritional security for India’s vast population. Milk and dairy products are rich in essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, and minerals, which are crucial for a balanced diet.
Rural Development: The dairy sector has been a major contributor to the growth of the rural economy in India. Dairy farming provides livelihood opportunities, especially in rural areas where agriculture is the primary occupation. The major production area of dairy products in India is Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
Livelihood Opportunities & Income Diversification: Dairy farming provides livelihood opportunities for farmers, milk producers, and workers involved in processing, packaging, and transportation, leading to increased income levels and improved living standards for rural communities. It provides an additional revenue stream alongside traditional crop farming enabling farmers to diversify their agricultural activities. This helps farmers mitigate risks associated with fluctuations in crop yields and market prices, thus enhancing overall agricultural productivity. Besides, it promotes the development of allied industries such as animal feed production and veterinary services.
Rising Exports: India’s dairy exports have seen significant growth in recent years. The country leverages its large milk production base, competitive pricing, and adherence to international quality standards to cater to the global demand for dairy products. India’s dairy sector has been expanding its presence in the global market, exporting various dairy products such as milk powder, butter, ghee (clarified butter), processed cheese etc.
India’s dairy exports was 67,572.99 MT worth Rs. 2,269.85 crore during the year 2022-23 with Bangladesh, UAE, Saudi Arab, USA and Bhutan being the major export destinations.
- India Largest Producer of Milk in the World, June 1, 2023, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Press Information Bureau
- Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APDEA), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, GoI
The allied sectors of Indian agriculture – livestock, forestry & logging and fishing & aquaculture are gradually becoming sectors of buoyant growth and a potential source of better farm incomes. Livestock plays a significant role in contributing to farmer income in several ways. Here are some of the key contributions:
Sale of Livestock Products: Farmers earn income by selling various livestock products such as milk, eggs, meat, wool, hides, and other by-products. These products can be sold directly to consumers, local markets, or through wholesale channels.
Breeding and Sales: Livestock farmers can generate income through breeding and selling high-quality animals for breeding purposes. This is especially true for specialized breeds that have desirable traits for specific purposes, such as dairy or meat production.
Animal Companionship and Services: Livestock can provide additional benefits beyond direct product sales. For example, farmers may offer services such as horseback riding, petting zoos, or therapeutic animal interactions, which can generate income through tourism, education, or therapy programs.
Manure and Fertilizer: Livestock waste, such as manure, can be utilized as a valuable source of fertilizer for crops. This reduces the need for external fertilizers, thus cutting costs and improving farm profitability.
Diversification and Risk Management: Livestock can serve as a diversification strategy for farmers, reducing their reliance on a single crop. This can help mitigate the risk associated with market fluctuations, weather conditions, or crop failures, thereby stabilizing and increasing income.
Integrated Farming Systems: Livestock can be integrated into farming systems, providing multiple benefits. For example, they can graze on cover crops, enhancing soil fertility and reducing weed growth. Livestock can also help manage pests, such as chickens consuming insects harmful to crops.
It’s important to note that the income generated from livestock farming can vary depending on factors such as the type of livestock, breed, management practices, market conditions, and geographical location.
The livestock sector grew at a CAGR of 7.9 per cent during 2014-15 to 2020-21 (at constant prices), and its contribution to total agriculture GVA (at constant prices) has increased from 24.3 per cent in 2014-15 to 30.1 per cent in 2020-21.
Similarly, the annual average growth rate of the fisheries sector has been about 7 per cent since 2016-17 and has a share of about 6.7 per cent in total agriculture GVA. Higher growth in allied sectors compared to the crop sector has obvious implications in terms of the increasing importance of the former in total agricultural GVA.
Recognising the growing importance of allied sectors, the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI, 2018) considers dairying, livestock, poultry, fisheries and horticulture as high-growth engines and has recommended a focussed policy with a concomitant support system for the allied sector.
Though the Crop sector is still the major contributor to agriculture GVA, the livestock sector is catching up (per cent).
The dairy sector is the most critical component of the livestock sector, employing more than eight crore farmers directly, and is the most prominent agrarian product. Other livestock products, such as eggs and meat, are also growing in importance. While India ranks first in milk production in the world, it ranks third in egg production and eighth in meat production in the world.
Cognisant of the importance of allied sectors, the Government has made several critical interventions to enhance infrastructure and improve livestock productivity and disease control. As a part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat (ANB) stimulus package, the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) worth ₹15,000 crore was launched in 2020. National Livestock Mission (NLM) scheme has been restructured for 2021-22 to 2025-26. The scheme focuses on entrepreneurship development and breeds improvement in poultry, sheep, goat and piggery, including feed and fodder development. Also, the Livestock Health and Disease Control (LH&DC) Scheme is being implemented to supplement the State/UT governments’ efforts towards preventing, controlling and containing animal diseases of economic and zoonotic importance by vaccination.
In May 2020, as a part of the ANB package, the Government of India launched its flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), with a total outlay of ₹20,050 crore. PMMSY marks the highest-ever investment in the fisheries sector in India, to be implemented over five years from FY21 to FY25 in all States/Union Territories to drive sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector while ensuring socio-economic development of the fishers, fish farmers and fish workers.
- Economic Survey – 2022-23, Ministry of Finance, GoI
- Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, GoI