(Last Updated on : 22/01/2014)
Agriculture is the principal occupation of the people of India. More than 70 per cent of the working population derives their livelihood by cultivation. Moreover, in India agriculture is the basis of the economic structure of India, for it is not only the source of raw materials for the principal industries of India such as jute textiles, sugar and cotton but it also accounts for the maximum portion of the total income. Indian agriculture has been taking a special place in the lifestyle of the Indians. Moreover, with the passing decades, Indian agriculture has earned multi-functional success in generating employment, food, livelihood, nutritional and ecological security. Agriculture and associated activities contribute about 30% to the gross domestic product of India. Food grain crops are dominant everywhere and they cover as much as three fourth of the total cropped area in India.
Arable land area in India is about 168 million hectares and this country ranks second only to the United States in regards to agricultural activities. A well-developed agricultural research system, a significant area of almost 60 million hectares under irrigation and an increasing productivity in major crops has enabled Indian agriculture to become a globally competitive participant. Indian Agriculture by its complete size and quantum of the activity can control the global markets directly and indirectly. Majority of rural population in India still depend on agriculture for their living and over 600 million farmers are involved in the agriculture related activities. India agriculture has the advantage of 52 per cent of cultivable land and a plethora of climatic conditions. India enjoys sunshine round the year it is the world's best country to grow crops throughout the year. Due to urbanization and rapid growth in the metropolis there is increased demand in the food supply.
The history of Indian agriculture dates back to ten thousand years. Indian agriculture began during 9000 BCE as a result of early cultivation of plants, and domestication of crops and animals. The middle ages in India saw irrigation channels that reached a new level of sophistication in India. Land and water management systems were developed with an objective of providing uniform growth. Today, India ranks second in the whole world as an agricultural country. The Indian agricultural sector employed 60 per cent of the total workforce, despite a steady decline of its share in the GDP, it is still the largest economic sector, and Indian agriculture plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic development of India.
India is a large country with unevenly distributed rainfall, varied soils and marked seasons - mildly cool winters and hot summers in north India. Such regional contrasts favour diversity in crop production. In areas of perennial supply of water, two or even more crops are raised a year. However, in India crop yield per hectare are among the poorest in the world. Uncertain rainfall, floods and droughts sometimes ruin crops. Indian soils are universally deficient in nitrogen. That is why usage of chemical fertilizers for making up the deficiency of important nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus is quite popular among the farmers. As a very large area of the country is under crops, India produces large quantities of rice, tea, jute, cotton, wheat and sugarcane despite low per hectare yields. India leads the world in the production of jute and tea.