Plantation Crops are crops which are grown on Plantations covering large estates. They include tea and coffee.
India is famous for its tea gardens. Tea plantation in India was started by the Britishers in 1923 when wild tea plants were discovered by them in the hilly and forest areas of Assam. Tea is made from tender sprouts of tea plants by drying them. At present, India is the leading tea producing country in the world. China and Sri Lanka are respectively second and third largest producers of tea.
(a) Temperature: It requires hot and wet climate. The ideal temperature for the growth of tea bushes and leaf varies between 20°C to 30°C. If temperature either rises above 35°C or goes below 10°C, it would be harmful for the growth of tea bushes and leaves.
(b) Rainfall: Tea requires a good amount of rainfall ranging between 150-300 cm and the annual rainfall should be well distributed throughout the year. Long dry spell is harmful for tea.
(c) Soil: Tea bush grows well in well drained, deep, friable loamy soil. However, virgin forest soils rich in humus and iron content are considered to be the best soils for the tea plantation. Tea is a shade loving plant and grows better when planted along with shady trees.
(d) Labour: Cheap and efficient labour is required for tea production.
(e) Distribution: Assam is the leading producer that accounts for more than 50% of tea production of India. Tea producing areas of Assam are the hill slopes bordering the Brahmaputra and Surma valleys. West Bengal is the second largest producer of tea where tea is mostly grown in the districts of Darjeeling, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Bihar districts. Tamil Nadu is the third largest producer where tea growing areas are mostly restricted to Nilgiri hills.
Coffee is the indigenous crop of Ethiopia (Abysinia Plateau). From Ethiopia, it was taken to Yemen in 11th Century. From Arabia, the seeds were brought by Baba Budan in 17th Century and were raised in Baba Budan hills of Karnataka. But it was British planters who took keen interest and large coffee estates were established in the hills of Western Ghats.
(a) Temperature: It requires hot and humid climate with temperature varying between 15°C and 28°C. It is generally grown under shady trees. Therefore, strong sun shine, high temperature above 30°C, frost and snowfall are harmful for coffee cultivation. Dry weather is necessary at the time of ripening of berries.
(b) Rainfall: Rainfall between 150 to 250 cm is favourable for coffee cultivation.
(c) Soil: Well drained, rich friable loamy soil containing good deal of humus and minerals like iron and calcium are ideal for coffee cultivation. The soil must be properly manured to retain and replenish fertility and to increase productivity.
(d) Labour: Like tea, coffee cultivation also requires plenty of cheap and skilled labour for various purposes like sowing, transplanting, pruning, plucking, dying, grading and packing of coffee.
(e) Distribution: Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the main states of coffee production in India.