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Indian Geography / Agriculture

Types of Crops in India

The classification of crops in India can be done on the basis of season and on the basis of usage. The types of crops based on usage are classified as food and cash crops. Food crops are further classified into Cereals and Pulses and similarly cash crops are further classified into Plantation crops, Horticulture crops, Oilseeds and Other cash crops. The types of crops based on season are classified as Kharif crops, Rabi crops and Zaid crops.

Indian agriculture is at intensive subsistence level which means it is a kind of farming in which crops that are grown, are consumed by the farmer himself and by his family. Agricultural universities and agricultural research institutes in India play an important role in provding timely inputs to the farming community.

India follows Mixed Cropping pattern, in which the same agricultural field is used for different types of crops at the same time. India also follows Crop Rotation where legume based crops are used in place of main crops for some duration.

Sometimes, India follows Fallowing where the land will be kept idle for sometime after its usage so that soil replenishment happens naturally. Indian agriculture follows Mixed Farming in which same land is meant for both Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.

Types of Crops Based On Their Uses

Depending on the usage of crops, the types of crops in India can be identified as Food crops or Cash crops,

Types of Crops in India

Types of Food Crops in India

There are mainly two types of food crops in India namely, Cereals and Pulses. Cereals are further classified as Fine Cereals and Coarse Cereals. Rice and Wheat constitute Fine Cereals. Coarse Cereals can be Millets or Non-Millets. Millets types include Ragi, Jowar, Bajra, etc. and Non-Millets types include Maize, Barley, etc.

  • Fine Cereals

    • Rice - Of the different types of crops in India, Rice occupies first position in the country by the sown area and it also occupies first position in production volume in the food crops category. India occupies Second position in rice production in the world after China.

      Rice generally grows in a high temperature (> 250C) and high rainfall (> 100 cm) regions having high humidity. Loamy soils are suitable for rice cultivation but it can also be cultivated on any soil. It requires waterlogged conditions.

      It is normally cultivated in Kharif season, but if water is available it can also be cultivated in Rabi season also. Eastern Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Malabar, Andhra Pradesh are the rice zones of India.

    • Wheat - Wheat generally requires moderate temperature and moderate rainfall of 50-75 cm. It is normally cultivated in winter i.e. Rabi season. India occupies Second position in wheat production in the world after China.

      It is generally grown in North India and the Southern limit is from Belgaum in Karnataka to Adilabad in Telangana. 80% wheat cultivation in India is done under irrigated conditions. Rice and wheat are staple foods of India.
  • Coarse Cereals

    • Coarse cereals like Jowar, Ragi, Bajra, Maize, etc. are cultivated in Kharif season. They are generally cultivated in rainfed areas. But the area under coarse cereal cultivation is going down.

      As more number of dams are constructed, people are going more towards high yielding crops. In addition to that there is shift in dietary habits of the people. Government policy of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for other crops is also one more cause for its decline.

    • Bajra - The area of North Gujarat and Western Rajasthan is the Bajra zone of India. The largest producer of Bajra in India is Rajasthan. It is also cultivated in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Haryana. Bajra requires less water for its cultivation.

    • Jowar - Half of India's Jowar comes from Maharashtra, followed by Karnataka, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.

    • Ragi - The largest producer of Ragi in India is Karnataka which is followed by Tamil Nadu. The Northern limit of Ragi cultivation is Odisha.

    • Maize - Maize, which is a Kharif crop, is cultivated throughout India. The area under cultivation of maize is expanding. The main producers of Maize are Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh,Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Pulses

    • Different types of pulse crops in India are Peas, Lentils, Red gram, Green gram, Black Gram, etc. Pulses are cultivated only under Rainfed areas that is in Drylands. Cultivation of pulses is more in Central India.

    • The production and yield levels since independence is stagnant for pulses. It is one of the area of concern in Indian agriculture. Per capita availability of pulses is around 34 gm/day/head, but National Institution of Nutrition, Hyderabad recommended 78 gm/day/head. We are importing pulses mainly from Myanmar.

    • It is a cheap source of protein in Indian food. Deficiency in protein results in stunted growth.

Types of Cash Crops in India

Cash crops in India comprise of Plantation crops, Horticulture crops, Oilseeds and Other cash crops. Plantation cash crops examples include rubber, coffee, tea, etc. Horticulture crops include vegetables, fruits, spices, flowers, etc.

  • Plantation Crops

    • Tea - Tea is a Temperate crop. It requires cooler climate and high rainfall (> 200 cm) for its cultivation. It is grown in well drained slopes.

      India remains the second largest producer of tea in the world after China. Tea is grown mainly in Assam (> 50% of India), Darjeeling Hills of West Bengal and Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu.

      Tea Research Association is located at Tocklai in Assam.

    • Coffee - Coffee is mainly a Tropical crop. It generally requires high temperature and high rainfall and is grown in well drained slopes. Brazil is the world's largest coffee producing country.

      80% of Coffee is grown in Western ghats of Karnataka, which is called Coffee state of India. The remaining Coffee is grown in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh hills.

    • Rubber - Rubber is mainly a Tropical crop. It requires temperature of more than 250C and rainfall of more than 200 cm. It is also grown in well drained slopes.

      90% of Rubber is grown in Kerala, which is called Rubber state of India. The remaining are grown in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. India ranks fourth among world's largest natural rubber producers. Thailand is the world's largest natural rubber producing country.
  • Horticulture Crops

    • Fruit Cultivation - India contributes 10% of world fruit production. It ranks number one in Mango, Banana and Grapes production.

      Mango accounts for about 39% of area of fruit cultivation in India and about 23% of total fruit production and about 54% of total world's mango production. After mango, citrus fruits occupy maximum area of cultivation followed by Banana.

    • Vegetables - India ranks second in producing vegetables after China and accounts for 13% of world's vegetable production. India ranks number one in Cauliflower, Cabbage and Onion production in the world.

    • Spices - Chillies account for around 33% of total spices production followed by Turmeric (22%). Andhra Pradesh remains the largest producer of chillies and turmeric.

      India ranks number one in the world in Cashew production, Cashew processing and Cashew export. It contributes to 45% of world's Cashew production.
  • Oilseeds

    • Two principal oilseeds in India are Groundnut and Mustard and to some extent oil palms and sunflower. Groundnut is grown in Kathiawar plains, Eastern Gujarat plains and Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

      Mustard is grown in Great Northern Plains. Oil palms are grown in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

    • Due to Yellow Revolution, India turned from Net importer status in oil to Net exporter status in oil seeds. In Yellow Revolution, Soya as well as other High yielding variety seeds were introduced and at the same time MSP was announced for oilseeds and subsidies were provided to oilseed farmers.
  • Other Cash Crops

    Other types of cash crops in India include Sugarcane, Cotton, Jute, Tobacco, etc.

    • Sugarcane - India is positioned at second place in the world in terms of area and production of the sugarcane after Brazil. In the over all crops category, sugarcane occupies first position in the country in terms of production volume. Sugarcane requires a temperature of 20-260C and rainfall of 150 cm.

      Sugarcane is grown in the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, etc.

    • Cotton - India ranks second in terms of area after USA and ranks third in the world in Cotton production after USA and China. Cultivation of cotton requires a temperature range of 20-300C and a rainfall of 50-75 cm.

      The crop will not be able to tolerate water-logging. Cotton is grown in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Telangana, Haryana, Karnataka, etc.

    • Jute - India is the largest producer of Jute having a share of around 60% in the world. It requires a temperature of 24-350C and high water supply.

      Jute is one of the 2 types of crops in India that is used in textile industry, the other being Cotton. The main Jute producing states in India are West Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Odisha.

    • Tobacco - India is positioned third in the world in tobacco production after China and USA. It requires an average rainfall of less than 50 cm and a temperature range of 16-400C and it will not be able to tolerate frost. Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat are the chief tobacco producing states of India.

In addition to the above list of crops grown in India, there are also many other smaller types of crops grown in India for the purpose human as well as domestic animal consumption.

Types of Crops Based On Season

Depending on the season during which they are grown, the crops in India can be classified as Kharif crops, Rabi crops and Zaid crops,

Kharif Crops

The crops that are grown during the period of monsoon season are called Kharif crops. The meaning of the Arabic word, "Kharif" is Autumn, the season during which these crops are harvested. Crops like Rice, Cotton, Maize, Ragi, Jowar, etc. are grown in this season. The Kharif season starts from June and ends in October. The crops that are grown in this season are generally water intensive and require hot weather conditions.

Rabi Crops

The crops which are grown during the the period of winter season are called Rabi crops. The meaning of the Arabic word, "Rabi" is Spring, the season during which these crops are harvested. Crops like Wheat, Mustard, Grams, Barley, Peas, etc. are grown in this season. The Rabi season starts from November and ends in March.

Rabi crops generally require a warm climate for germination of seeds and cold climate for the crop growth. Rabi crops are mainly cultivated through irrigation facilities as there won't be any rain during this season.

Zaid Crops

Crops grown during a short period between Rabi and Kharif seasons from the month of March to June, are called Zaid crops. As these crops mature very fast, they require a very short duration for their growth. Pumpkin, Fodder crops, Watermelon, Cucumber, Bitter gourd, etc. come under Zaid crops.