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As indicated earlier in this chapter, we can hardly describe all the cropping patterns within the framework of this chapter. Therefore only important ones are highlighted. There are many ways in which a cropping pattern can be discussed.

A broad picture of the major cropping patterns in India can be presented by taking the major crops into consideration. To begin with, the south-westerly monsoon crops (kharif), bajra, maize, ragi, groundnut and cotton. Among the post-monsoon crops (rabi), wheat, sorghum (rabi)and gram can also be considered to be the base crops for describing the cropping patterns. With such an approach, the crop occupying the highest percentage of the sown area of the region is taken as the base crop and all other possible alternative crops which are sown in the region either as substitutes of the base crop in the same season or as the crops which fit in the rotation in the subsequent season, are considered in the pattern. Also these crops have been identified as associating themselves with a paricular type of agroclimate, and certain other minor crops with similar requirements are grouped in one category. For example, wheat, barley and oats, are taken as one category. Similarly the minor millets (Paspalum,Setaria and Panicum spp.) are grouped with sorghum or bajra. Certain other crops, such as the plantation crops and other industrial crops are discussed seperately.


Among the kharif crops, rice, jowar, bajra, maize, groundnut and cotton are the prominent crops to be considered the base crops for describing the kharif cropping patterns.

The rice-based cropping patterns. Rice is grown in the high-rainfall area or in areas where supplemental irrigation is available to ensure good yields. If the crop has to depend solely on rainfall, it requires not less than 30 cm per month of rainfall over the entire growing period. However, only 9 per cent of the area in the country comes under this category, and it lies in the eastern parts. Nearly 45 per cent of the total rice area in India recieves 30 cm per month of rainfall during at least two months (July and August) of the south-westerly monsoon and much less during other months. In contrast to these parts, the eastern and southern regions comprising Assam, West Bengal, coastal Orissa, coastal Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka (most part), Tamil nadu and Kerala receive rainfall of 10 to 20 cm per month in four to eight consecutive months, starting earlier or going over later than the south-westerly monsoon months. With supplemental irrigation, 2 or 3 crops are taken in these areas. However, it has been observed that on an all-India basis, nearly 80% of rice is sown during June-September and the rest during the rest of the season. Areawise the mono-season belt occupies 53.6 per cent of the area (comprising Assam, West Bengal, coastal Orissa, coastal Andhra Pradesh, parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala).

On an all-India basis, about 30 rice-based cropping patterns have been identified in different states. In the most humid areas of eastern India comprising Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram, rice is the exclusive crop. In Meghalaya, rice is alternated with cotton, vegetable and food-crops, whereas in Arunachal Pradesh, where rice is not grown exclusively, the alternative crops being maize, small millets and oilseeds. In parts of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, orissa and northern coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, jute forms an important commercial crop alternative to rice. In West Bengal, besides rice and jute, pulses and maize are grown on a limited scale. In Bihar, rice is grown over 49 per cent(5.3 m ha) of its cropped area(14.2 per cent of all-India area), whereas pulses, wheat, jute, maize, sugarcane and oilseeds are the alternative crops. In Uttar Pradesh rice is grown on 19 per cent(4.6 m ha) of its cropped area and represents about 12.4 per cent of the all-India area under this crop. Rice is concentrated in the eastern districts of Uttar Pradesh where the alternative crops are pulses, groundnut, sugarcane, bajra and jowar in the decreasing order of their importance. Tobacco is grown in some districts.

In Orissa, rice is grown on more than 50 per cent of the area, whereas the alternative crops are: pulses, ragi, oilseeds, maize and small millets. in Madhya Pradesh rice is grown in the Chattisgarh area on 4.3 m ha(11.7 per cent of the all-India rice area), but the crop suffers because of inadequate rainfall and irrigation. The important alternative crops of this area are: small millets, pulses and groundnut. Wheat is also grown on a limited scale.

In the southern states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala rice is grown in more than one season and mostly under irrigation or under sufficient rainfall. Together, these three states have over 6.0 m ha, representing over 17 per cent of the all-India area under rice. Important alternative plantation crops in Andhra Pradesh are: pulses, groundnut, jowar, maize, sugarcane and tobacco. In Karnataka the crops alternative to rice are: ragi, plantation crops, bajra, cotton, groundnut, jowar and maize. In Kerala plantation crops and tapioca form the main plantation crops alternative to rice. in Maharashtra rice is grown mostly in the Konkan area over 1.3 m ha, along with ragi, pulses, rabi jowar, sugarcane, groundnuts and oilseeds. in other states, namely Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh,rice forms a minor plantation crop and is mostly grown with irrigation. However, in Punjab and Haryana and to some extent in western Uttar Pradesh owing to high water-table during this monsoon season, rice has become a major crops in such areas.

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