Cropping Patterns

The agricultural land devoted to different crops in a region or state or country at a particular point of time is called the cropping pattern. The cropping pattern of a region is an outcome of a long term agricultural practices, social customs and traditions, physical conditions and historical factors.

Features of changing crop-pattern

Climate - rainfall, temperature, humidity; soils, size of farms, availability of fertilizer, good quality of seeds, irrigational facilities and price incentives are the factors which effect cropping patterns.

A. Dominance of food crops over non-food crops

At the time of Independence, more than 75 per cent of the total area sown in the country was devoted to the production of food crops. Gradually with commercialisation of agriculture, farmers in India have started shifting area to non-food crops.

Now, relative share of area under food crops has declined from 76.7% during 1950-51 to 65.8% during 1999-2000. This trend shows commercialisation of agriculture in India.

B. Variety of crops grown

Almost every kind of crops are grown in India as it is endowed with a variety of soils. These crops can be grouped into (a) Food crops (b) Fibre crops (c) Oilseeds (d) Medicinal plants and spices.

Food crops are of two types - cereal and non-cereal. Among the cereals rice, wheat and millet are important. Pulses come next and then oilseeds. Similarly a number of spices and medicinal plants are also cultivated throughout the country.

Emphasis is placed now on production of oilseeds, because a large amount of foreign exchange is spent on import of edible oils. Special attention is also given to production of medicinal plants, fruits, flowers and vegetables.

C. Dominance of cereals among food crops

Within broad group of food crops cereals like wheat and rice dominate. About 82 per cent of the area under food crops has been put to cultivation of cereals. This is due to better prices, less risk in production and the availability of better seeds.

D. Decline in coarse cereals

Jwar, Bajra, Maize, Millets, Barley, etc. are called coarse or inferior cereals. The area under these crops to the total area under cereal crops has declined significantly from 48 per cent in 1950-51 to about 29 per cent in 2001. This is due to spread of irrigation facilities, improved inputs and a shift in consumption patterns of the people.

E. Declining importance of Kharif crops

There are mainly three cropping seasons in India (i) Kharif (ii) Rabi (iii) Zaid. The Kharif season corresponds to the rainy season, while Rabi season with the winter. The short period in between the harvest of the Rabi crops and the sowing of the Kharif crops is called the Zaid season.

Till recently, Kharif crops have been contributing the large share in the crop production in India. But this dominance is on the decline. The share of Kharif has declined from 71 per cent in the 1970’s to 49 percent in 2003-2004. This makes a significant change in Indian agricultural practices after Green Revolution.

This change is important because it would lessen uncertainty in crops production, as Rabi crops are more reliable than Kharif ones. The Kharif crops are not reliable because they are mostly dependent on rainfall. The most parts of India get rainfall from monsoon which is unreliable.Contrary to this, mostly Rabi crops in India are raised on irrigation which is comparatively reliable.