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Importance of Crops in India

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Today, India ranks second worldwide in farm output. India is an agrarian country and more than60% of population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. While residing in urban areas may be we would not realize much importance of agriculture but this fact is not new that agriculture is the main source of income for major part of our country’s population. India's population is growing faster than its ability to produce rice and wheat. The required level of investment for the development of marketing, storage and cold storage infrastructure is estimated to be huge. The country produces innumerable crops ranging from medicinal to cereal crops. These commodities are used for various purposes from human consumption, in industries, for animal feed etc. 

Most of us do not know major categories of crops. We are unaware of its valuable contribution to our economy. Ignoring the negative approach of the citizens living in urban areas, the cropping activities are continue to go on all the year-round in India, provided water is available for crops.

Crops in India are broadly divided into three major categories, viz.

  • Kharif crops: The crops that are sown in the rainy season are called kharif crops. Its season starts from July and ends in October, e.g. Maize, Sugarcane, Cotton, Jawar, Bajra  soyabean, turmeric, paddy, moong, ground nuts , red chillies.
  • Rabi crops:The crops that are sown in the winter season are called rabi crops. Its season is during October to March, e.g Wheat, oil seed, pulses, rubber beans.
  • Zaid crops: Crops grown between March and June are known as Zaid e.g. muskmelon, watermelon and vegetables like guard, pumpkin etc.

At some places rice is produced more in quantity and at some other places more wheat is produced. In some regions maize, jute and in other regions sugar-cane is produced. India produces different types of crops due to difference in soil and climate.

In a short note let us know our main crops:

Food Crops

  • Rice:  Rice is the main grain crop of India. India ranks second in the world in production of rice. About 34% of the total cultivated area of the nation is under rice cultivation. Rice is cultivated in areas having annual average rainfall of 125 cm. Major rice cultivating areas are north east India, eastern and western coastal regions. West Bengal, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are the major rice producing states.
  • Wheat: Wheat is the second major crop in India. Wheat is cultivated in areas with mean annual rainfall of 75 cm and fertile soil. Wheat has got an important role in 'Green Revolution'. The highest quantity of wheat in the country is in Uttar Pradesh. 35 % of wheat is produced only in Uttar Pradesh. This is produced by Punjab and Haryana where production of wheat is on a large scale.
  • Maize: Maize is an important khaki crop of rainy season. Maize is cultivated in different areas and in different climates but it is suitable where temperature is 35° Celsius and rainfall is 75 centimeters.  It is cultivated in hilly areas-of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Maize is cultivated throughout our country but it is cultivated more in Punjab, U.P., Bihar, M.P. and Rajasthan.
  • Pluses: Pulses are grown in dry climate region in India. These crops provide nitrogen to the soil. Pulses are a source of proteins in the diet. Madhya Pradesh is the leading pulses producing state in India. It is also produce in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  • Jowar: This crop is grown where the climate is hot and dry. It is cultivated in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

In agriculture there are few crops which are grown for profit are called as ‘Cash Crops or Commercial crops’.  Cash crop is a backbone of agriculture economy of India. It sets a strong base for Indian economy where country’s trade and commerce flourish domestically and internationally. Cash crops are generally grown for money. In earlier days, cash crops were grown in a very small scale but today it forms a major contribution to our nation’s economy.  Now it has grown at large scale for commercial purpose.

Cash Crops

  • Sugarcane: Sugarcane is an important cash crop of India. Molasses, sugar and khandasari etc. are produced from the juice of sugarcane. Sugarcane cultivation needs temperature of 15° to 40° and rainfall of 100 to 150 centimeters and fertile loamy soil or hard soil. Sugarcane is cultivated from Kanyakumuri (southern part) to Punjab (north-west) but it is more cultivated in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Coffee: There is a great demand of coffee in the world market. For reason, India exports coffee. Coffee cultivation needs hot and wet climate and fertile sloppy land.  It is mainly produced in south Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Coffee is produced on a large scale on the mountain ranges of Nilgiri.
  • Tea: India is first in the cultivation of tea in the world. Tea cultivation needs hot climate, excess rainfall and sloppy soil. Tea is found more in Assam, Karnataka, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh, Dehradun, Ranchi of Bihar and Tripura.
  • Rubber: Rubber is needed by different industries and transport industry in this modern age.   It is cultivated in hot and wet climate garden in natural way. It is cultivated in the State of Kerala in India. Except Kerala, Andaman Nicobar Islands, Kurgan of Karnataka State and Chicmagalur district etc.
  • Oilseeds: Groundnut, mustard, rapeseed, linseed and caster help us to get our edible oil. Oil is also extracted from coconut. India occupies the first position in the world in the production of groundnut. Groundnut cultivation needs temperature varying from 20° to 30° degree Celsius and needs 60 to 80 centimeters of rainfall. Groundnut cultivation needs sandy and light soil. Groundnuts are produced more in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Fibre crops:

  • Cotton: Cultivation of cotton needs 20° to 25° Celsius temperature and 50 to 75 centimeters of rainfall. Cotton plant needs wet climate at the time of growing and dry climate at the time of collecting seeds.  it is known as Kharif crop. Cotton cultivation takes place in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana of our country. Except these States, cotton cultivation also takes place in Karnataka, Tamilnadu, M.P, Rajasthan, A.P. and U.P.
  • Jute: India is a major producer of jute in the world. It is another type of fiber crop. Bags, ropes and a lot of other things are made out of jute. Jute cultivation needs hot and wet climate and fertile loamy land. Temperature of 24° to 35° Celsius and 90 to 150 centimeters of rainfall is suitable for jute cultivation. In our country, jute is cultivated in Orissa, West Bengal, eastern U.P., Bihar, Assam and Tripura.

It does not matter where we are living, in urban or in rural areas, what really matters is the knowledge about our crops and agriculture, which is very essential to know the significance of crops in our life. According to a survey conducted by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, there is sufficient food produced in the world every year to feed every human being on the planet. But still nearly 800 million people literally go hungry every day, with more than a third of the earth's population -- 2 billion men and women -- malnourished one way or another.

In India, slow agricultural growth is a major concern for policymakers as two-thirds of India’s people depend on rural employment for a living. Current agricultural practices are neither economically nor environmentally sustainable. Productions of many agricultural commodities are low in India. Poorly maintained irrigation systems or we can say fully depend on monsoon rain is the main factor responsible for its slow growth. Crops which are grown in different parts of India, contributes to overall growth of the country’s economy. You would be very surprised to know that agriculture sector contributes around 17% to gross domestic product (GDP) despite of fact that our country is very rich in agriculture and more shocking truth is that this percentage figures out only when country blessed with good showers of monsoon.

That is why since prehistoric times, Indian economy was often called as ‘monsoon economy’.  In India irrigation systems are very poor. Agriculture is fully depended on monsoon rain which is the major factor responsible for its slow growth and sometime consequent to drought situations in some states. Work of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is also not much appreciable as maximum time it failed to provide right information at right time. Its meteorological observations about weather forecasts and detecting earthquakes are not much helpful to those who are associated to agriculture. IMD needs to equip with latest technology and equipments so that its work should prove as great help to agriculture.

The livelihood of a vast population in India depends on agriculture, forestry, wetlands and fisheries and land use in these areas is strongly influenced by water-based ecosystems that depend on monsoon rains. Climate change indicates that action is essential in order to prevent long term damage to India's water cycle which is very necessary for agriculture of our country.  It reflects the critical role of the monsoon in crop farming that ultimately affects the Indian economy growth.

To lift it up, there is vital need to take more initiatives and to upgrade our plans and policies. Latest agriculture technologies and equipment should be adopted for better output. More educated and right talent should enter to agriculture sector.

“A wealthy landowner cannot cultivate and improve his farm without spreading comfort and well-being around him. Rich and abundant crops, a numerous population and a prosperous countryside are the rewards for his efforts. “

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