Agriculture in India

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Agriculture in India

Seasons of India

Most important to the climate of India is the monsoon:

"The climate of India is dominated by the great wind system known as the Asiatic monsoon. This is completely unlike the prevailing wind system that operates in many countries, i.e., a wind that prevails from the same direction throughout the year. The monsoon reverses direction at certain times of the year. For some months it will blow steadily from the southwest; for other months, from the northeast."[1]

From December to February (Winter), India experiences its coolest, driest weather. "Summer" occurs from March until May, when weather is still dry but becomes hot. Then, in June, the wind blows from the southwest, bringing the monsoon.[1] The monsoon season lasts from June to September:

"On average, the arrival of the rains - the 'burst of the monsoon', as it is called - comes to the south of India during late May or early June. It will reach the north about six weeks later. In some years, the rains will be torrential; in other years they may be light or locally variable, in which case the monsoon will be said to have 'failed'."[1]

Last, is the post-monsoon season, from October to December, when the wind blows from the northeast. While the rainfall is completely gone from much of India, this is when Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala receive rain.[2]

Kharif and Rabi Crops

In Indian agriculture, two crops are sown each year. The first, known as kharif crops, are grown during the monsoon season. The second, planted around November, grown during the winter, and harvested in spring, are called rabi crops. Major Kharif crops include cotton, rice, maize and millets.[3] Major rabi crops include wheat, gram, linseed and mustard.


The following crops are grown in India:[3]


  • Bajra (pearl millet) and Jowar (sorghum): Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. Require a hot and sufficiently dry climate and poor soil.
  • Barley: U.P., Bihar, Haryana. Its cultivation requires cool climate and it can be grown in a soil poorer than that required for wheat.
  • Maize: U.P., Bihar and the Punjab. In India it requires a warm and moist (but not very moist) climate.
  • Rice: Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Orissa. Rice requires a hot and moist climate with rainfall from 40" to 80" or more and rich soil. The plant is required to remain under water for several days in the beginning. A marshy soil is very suitable.
  • Wheat: A rabi crop grown in U.P., Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. To some extent in Bihar, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Wheat requires a cool climate in the beginning, warm and dry weather at the time of harvesting and rainfall at intervals—between 20" to 30". A clayey soil is very favorable.


Gram, and other Pulses are grown in U.P., Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka. These include:


Spices (pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmegs) require a hot, moist and even climate.

  • Areca nuts (Betel Nuts): West Bengal and South India.
  • Cardamom: Karnataka. India is the largest producer of cardamom in the world.
  • Chillies West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra
  • Pepper: Kerala and West Bengal

Major Cash Crops

  • Cashew: Kerala.
  • Coffee: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu (Nilgiri Hills) and Kerala. Coffee requires warm and moist climate and an altitude between 457 metres and 762 metres with greater than 60" of rainfall annually. The plant cannot stand extreme cold.
  • Cotton: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Maharashtra. "It requires warm, moist and even climate where summer is long and where the soil contains salt. Sea-breeze is beneficial for quality of the fibre. The ideal situation for plantation is lowlands near the sea coast or on islands in semi-tropical latitudes."
  • Hemp: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and U.P.
  • Jute: Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. "It requires a high temperature with a minimum of about 80°F during the period of growth. It also needs rich sandy soil, sufficient rainfall well distributed over the period of growth, ample supply of water for soaking of plants and for washing the stripped fibre. It also needs suitable and sufficient labour to handle the crop at the proper time."
  • Opium Poppies: U.P., Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir. It requires hot and moist climate with a rich soil.
  • Rubber: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka. A plantation crop that requires a warm and humid climate.
  • Silk: Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal and Assam.
  • Sugarcane: U.P., Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra. Requires an evenly high temperature with sufficient rainfall — about 40". It needs a fertile soil, with lime and salt in it.
  • Tea: Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu (Nilgiri Hills), Uttarkhand (Dehradun) and Himachal Pradesh (Kangra Hills). "(Tea is dried leaves of an evergreen shrub). It requires warm and moist climate. It is grown on mountain slopes. At least 60" annual rainfall in showers is needed for the new leaves to sprout. If water is allowed to stay, the roots are destroyed. So mountain slopes on which water does not accumulate are necessary. Soil containing iron is an additional advantage."
  • Tobacco: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, U.P., West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Requires a hot and moist climate and rich soil.

Other Crops

  • Cinchona: Tamil Nadu (Nilgiri Hills); West Bengal (Darjeeling).
  • Coconut: Kerala is the leading producer of coconut in India.
  • Cotton Seeds: Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • Linseed: Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, U.P., Maharashtra and West Bengal.
  • Mustard and Rapeseed (Sarson): U.P., West Bengal, Punjab, Bihar and Orissa.
  • Saffron: Jammu and Kashmir.


Top Exports in 2008 were:[4]

  • 1. Rice
  • 2. Soybean meal (Cake of soybeans)
  • 3. Buffalo meat
  • 4. Maize (corn)
  • 5. Cashew nuts
  • 6. Cotton
  • 7. Tobacco
  • 8. Sugar (refined)
  • 9. Tea
  • 10. Castor oil
  • 11. Sugar (raw)
  • 12. Onions
  • 13. Essential oils
  • 14. Coffee
  • 15. Sesame seed
  • 16. Groundnuts
  • 17. Rapeseed (Cake of rapeseed)
  • 18. Chillies and peppers (dry)
  • 19. Anise, badian, fennel, and coriander
  • 20. Mangoes, mangosteens, and guavas

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 BBC Weather India, Accessed September 15, 2011.
  2. India Weather - When is the Weather of India Best for Travel?, Accessed September 15, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Crops and Minerals, Accessed September 18, 2011.
  4. FAOSTAT database, Accessed September 18, 2011.

External resources

External articles