Agriculture has been the main occupation of the people in India since ancient times. Due to vast size of the country and variation in physical and social conditions large number of crops is grown and different farming practices are in vogue. These include primitive Jhum farming practiced by tribal’s, subsistent grain farming on traditional lines, new commercial farming using modern techniques and plantation farming on big farms to grow selected crops for export.
This is a shifting cultivation practiced by trial’s in the forest areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
It is known as Jhum in Assam, Ponam in Kerala, Podu in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, Beewar, Mashan, Penda and Beera in different parts of Madhya Pradesh. Here fields are obtained by felling and burning the forests over which crops like dry paddy, buck wheat, maize, small millets, tobacco and sugarcane etc. are grown for 2-3 years using crude and primitive techniques.
These fields are abandoned when soil fertility is lost so as to clear new forest tracts. Jhum farming occupies about 43.6 lakh hectares (l .33%) of country’s area and is a great menace to forest and environment. It also accelerates soil erosion and causes floods and silting in lower reaches of the riverine flood plains. Since the problem is socioeconomic special programmes have been launched to educate tribal to go for sedentary farming and to give them financial assistance for their rehabilitation. Under the scheme each jhumia tribal family has been allotted one hectare of terraced agricultural land and one hectare of land for horticulture and plantation crops.
Subsistent Grain Farming
This is a traditional farm of agriculture practiced in major parts of the country since ancient times. It is also called oriental grain farming. Here agriculture is carried on small land holdings with the help of animal and man power using outdated old implements to meet domestic needs of food and other items.
There is a dominance of food crops in the agriculture and very little surplus is left for sale and export. Lack of irrigational facilities, loss of crops due to floods and droughts, less use of fertilisers, high yielding variety of seeds, insecticides, low soil fertility, problems of soil erosion and soil degradation, low agricultural yield, indebtedness of farmers and low quality of life are some of the typical conditions prevailing in these areas.
Kharif and rabi are two important cropping seasons of the year although vegetable and some crops are also grown in zaid (summer) season where moisture is available through rainfall or irrigation. Kharif season begins with the onset of summer monsoon in Jun-July in which rice, millets, maize, groundnut, jute, cotton, ragi and sesamum are the main crops. Pulses are also grown during this season in which tur (arahar) takes a comparatively longer period to mature.
The rabi season includes winter crops which are sown in October-December and harvested in April-May. These crops mainly depend upon subsoil moisture, scanty rainfall and irrigation. The important crops include wheat, gram, barley, peas, rabi pulses, oil seeds (linseed, rapeseed and mustard) and vegetables. Besides these two dominant crop season’s moong, urad, vegetables etc. are also grown in zaid (summer) season where irrigation facilities are available.
In the southern half of the Peninsula where temperature is high and rainfall occurs in winter season successive crops of rice, cotton and jowar are grown year round in the same field. In areas of West Bengal and Assam where summer rainfall starts early as many as three crops of rice are obtained from the same field in a year.
Sugarcane takes a longer time (8 to 10 months), and hence does not belong to rabi or kharif season. In a major part of the Peninsula and the semi-arid areas of Rajasthan where irrigational facilities are not well developed and rainfall is scanty only kharif crops with predominance of coarse grains are raised or dry farming is practiced.
With the development of irrigational facilities, increasing use of HYV of seeds, chemical fertilisers, insecticides, farm machineries the rational agriculture is yielding place to new comical farming.
Commercial Grain Farming
This new method of farming has been gently introduced in the areas of assured irrigate like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh etc. Hereto tonal subsistent farming is being replaced by not commercial farming which is putting more on new techniques of agriculture and greater use irrigational facilities, HYV seeds, chemical furriers, insecticides, pesticides and farm machinery Here tractors, harvesters and threshers etc has replaced traditional wooden ploughs and draw animals.
Since such type of agriculture needs m capital, it is also called capitalist farming. H crops of wheat, maize, rice, sugar cane etc. area to generate greater surplus for sale and profit, green revolution starting with wheat cultivation given new orientation to this type of farming why has generated large agricultural income to be a lased in agriculture and allied sectors. It is because this farming that India has been able to become s sufficient in the matter of food grains and also generate small surplus for export.
This includes plantation agriculture introduce during the British regime to meet the demands f tea, coffee and rubber in European market. Accordingly large tracts of hill slopes in the north-east and southern Peninsular region of India were converted into plantation where besides farming, labor colonies, processing units, god owns and residence of estate manager and officials were built up. Originally the owners were mostly Europeans but after independence these estates have been transferred to the Indians. Such plantations dot the landscape of the hill slopes of Darjeeling hills, Assam Himalayas, Nilgiri hills and Kumaun region of Uttaranchal Here tea is the main crop.
Coffee and rubber plantations are confined to the southern part of the Peninsular India. In all, there are over 30,000 plantations in the country. Generally tea and rubber plantations are bigger in size than coffee plantations. These plantations are managed as mini factories on commercial lines. Major part of the production is sent to the international market after meeting the national demands. In India about 11 lakh hectares of the country’s area is devoted to plantations.
Indian agriculture is witnessing a lot of transformation in recent years. Not only it is becoming more and more commercialised and market oriented but it is becoming more diversified. Emphasis is being placed on cash crops, horticulture, garden crops, vegetable growing and animal husbandry to supplement farmers’ income. In many areas sericulture, pisciculture, bee keeping, poultry farming etc. have become part of agriculture in which farmers are taking great deal of interest.