Land Use and Agriculture Agro-Climatic Regions of India, Cropping Patterns Part 5

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Agro-Climatic Regions of India

India has diverse agro-climatic conditions. It has almost all types of climatic conditions, capable of producing almost all kinds of agricultural produce in one or the other region. Several attempts have been made to classify India into various agricultural regions based on climatic and natural vegetation.

In 1989, the Planning Commission divided India into following 15 agro-climatic regions.

  1. The North-Western Himalaya

  2. The North-East Himalaya

  3. The Lower Ganga Plain

  4. The Middle Ganga Plain

  5. The Upper Ganga Plain

  6. The Trans Ganga plain (Punjab Plains)

  7. The Eastern Plateau and Hills

  8. The Central Plateau and Hills

  9. The Western Plateau and Hills

  10. The Southern Plateau and Hills

  11. The East Coast Plains and Hills

  12. The West Coast Plains and Ghats

  13. The Gujarat Plains and Hills

  14. The Western Dry Region

  15. The Islands

Agro Climatic Regions of India

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Agro Climatic Regions of India

Cropping Patterns

The agricultural land devoted to different crops in a region or state or country at a particular point of time is called the cropping pattern. The cropping pattern of a region is an outcome of a long-term agricultural practices, social customs and traditions, physical conditions, and historical factors.

Features of Changing Crop Pattern

Changing Crop Pattern in India is as Under:

Dominance of Food Crops over Non-Food Crops: At the time of Independence, more than 75 % of the total area sown in the country was devoted to the production of food crops. Gradually with commercialisation of agriculture, farmers in India have started shifting area to non-food crops. Now, relative share of area under food crops has declined from 76.7% during 1950-51 to 65.8% during 1999-2000. This trend shows commercialisation of agriculture in India.

Variety of Crops Grown: Almost every kind of crops are grown in India as it is endowed with a variety of soils. These crops can be grouped into- food crops, fibre crops, oilseeds, medicinal plants, and spices. Food crops are of two types-cereal and non-cereal. Among the cereals, rice, wheat, and millet are important. Pulses come next and then oilseeds. Similarly, a number of spices and medicinal plants are also cultivated throughout the country. Emphasis is placed now on production of oilseeds, because a large amount of foreign exchange is spent on import of edible oils. Special attention is also given to the production of medicinal plants, fruits, flowers, and vegetables.

Dominance of Cereals Among Food Crops: Within the broad group of food crops cereals like wheat and rice dominate. About 82 % of the area under food crops has been put to cultivation of cereals. This is due to better prices, less risk in production, and the availability of better seeds.

Decline in Coarse Cereals: Jowar, bajra, maize, millets, barley etc. are called coarse or inferior cereals. The area under these crops to the total area under cereal crops has declined significantly from 48 % in 1950-51 to about 29 % in 2001. This is due to the spread of irrigation facilities, improved inputs, and a shift in consumption patterns of the people.

Declining Importance of Kharif Crops: There are mainly three cropping seasons in India- Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid. The Kharif season corresponds to the rainy season, while Rabi season with the winter. The short period in between the harvest of the Rabi crops and the sowing of the Kharif crops is called the Zaid season. Till recently, Kharif crops have been contributing the large share in the crop production in India. But this dominance is on the decline. The share of Kharif has declined from 71 % in the 1970’s to 49 % in 2003-2004. This makes a significant change in Indian agricultural practices after Green Revolution. This change is important because it would lessen uncertainty in crops production, as Rabi crops are more reliable than Kharif ones. The Kharif crops are not reliable because they are mostly dependent on rainfall. The most parts of India get rainfall from monsoon which is unreliable. Contrary to this, mostly Rabi crops in India are raised on irrigation which is comparatively reliable.

Climate- rainfall, temperature, and humidity, soils, size of farms, availability of fertilizer, good quality of seeds, irrigational facilities, and price incentives are the factors which effect cropping patterns.

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