Nikaalo Prelims Spotlight || Agriculture, Applied Aspects

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This Spotlight is a part of our Mission Nikaalo Prelims-2023.

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YouTube LIVE with Parth sir – 7 PM  – Prelims Spotlight Session

Evening 04 PM  – Daily Mini Tests

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17th May 2023

Agriculture, Applied Aspects

Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities.


  • Humans Engage in different activities to exploit natural resources and the most ancient of them are Primary activities.
  • Primary activities are directly dependent on the environment and some of these activities are:

Gathering and hunting:

  • These are the oldest economic activities known.
  • Gathering is practiced in regions with harsh climatic conditions.
  • It often involves primitive societies, who extract both plants and animals to satisfy their needs for food, shelter and clothing.
  • The main features of Gathering and Hunting activities are:
    • Low Capital / Skill Investment
    • Low Yield Per Person
    • No Surplus in production
  • Gathering is practised in the following areas of the world:
    • Northern Canada, northern Eurasia and southern Chile (High Altitude Areas)
    • Low latitude zones such as the Amazon Basin, tropical Africa, Northern fringe of Australia and the interior parts of Southeast Asia.

Nomadic Herding or Pastoral Nomadism:

  • Nomadic herding or pastoral nomadism is a primitive subsistence activity, in which the herders rely on animals for food, clothing, shelter, tools and transport.
  • They move from one place to another along with their livestock, depending on the amount and quality of pastures and water, thus there is an irregular pattern of movement.
  • It is different from Transhumance in which there is a fixed seasonal pattern of movement.
  • Nomadic pastoralism is commonly practised in regions with little arable land, typically in the developing world.
  • Of the estimated 30–40 million nomadic pastoralists worldwide, most are found in central Asia and Northern and western regions of Africa, some parts of southern Africa and Tundra regions.
  • In the Himalayas, Gujjars, Bakarwals, Gaddis and Bhotiyas are nomadic pastoralists who practice transhumance.


Commercial Livestock Rearing:

  • Commercial livestock rearing is more organised and capital-intensive activity in comparison to the Nomadic pastoralism. It is generally practised in permanent ranches.
  • Products such as meat, wool, hides and skin are processed and packed scientifically and exported to different world markets emphasis is on breeding, genetic improvement, disease control and health care of the animals.
  • New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Uruguay and the United States of America are important countries where commercial livestock rearing is practised.

Ranches refers to the large stock farms, usually fenced in, where animals are bred and reared on a commercial scale. They are found especially in the United States.

Primary Subsistence Agriculture

  • Subsistence agriculture is one in which the farming areas consume all, or nearly so, of the products locally grown.

Subsistence agriculture

  1. Primitive Subsistence Agriculture
  2. Intensive Subsistence Agriculture

Primitive Subsistence Agriculture

  • This agriculture is also known as Shifting Cultivation.
  • It is widely practised by many tribes in the tropics, especially in Africa, south and Central America and south East Asia.
  • When the vegetation is cleared by fire, and the ashes add to the fertility of the soil, it is called slash and burn agriculture.
  • After sometime (3 to 5 years) the soil loses its fertility and the farmer shifts to other parts and clears other patches of the forest for cultivation.
JhumNorth-eastern India
Vevar and DahiyaarBundelkhand Region (Madhya Pradesh)
DeepaBastar District (Madhya Pradesh)
Zara and ErkaSouthern States
BatraSouth-eastern Rajasthan
PoduAndhra Pradesh
KumariHilly Region of the Western Ghats of Kerala
Kaman, Vinga and DhaviOdisha

Intensive Subsistence Agriculture

  • In this type of farming system, crops are grown mainly for local consumption. If there is a surplus, then it is sold in the market.
  • This type of farming is largely found in densely populated regions of monsoon Asia.
  • Basically, there are two types of intensive subsistence agriculture.
  1. One is dominated by wet paddy and
  2. Another is dominated by crops such as sorghum, soybeans, sugarcane, maize, and vegetables.
  • Areas of Intensive Subsistence Farming are: Tonkin Delta (Vietnam), lower Menem (Thailand); lower Irrawaddy (Myanmar); and the Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta, Eastern Coastal Plains (India).

Mediterranean Agriculture

  • It is practised within the Mediterranean climatic region where winter is wet and summer is dry.
  • Farming is intensive, highly specialised and varied in the kind of crops raised.
  • Many crops such as wheat, barley and vegetables are raised for domestic consumption, while others like citrus fruits, olives and grapes are grown mainly for export.
  • That’s why this region is also called Orchard Lands of the World and it is the heart of the world’s wine industry. This region is famous around the world for the production of citrus fruits and grapes in the world.

Viticulture or grape cultivation is a speciality of the Mediterranean region. Best quality wines in the world with distinctive flavours are produced from high quality grapes in various countries of this region. The inferior grapes are dried into raisins and currants. This region also produces olives and figs. The advantage of Mediterranean agriculture is that more valuable crops such as fruits and vegetables are grown in winters when there is great demand in European and North American markets.

Plantation Agriculture

  • This type of farming has developed in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America, where the influence of the Europeans have been important during the colonial period.
  • Though practiced over a rather small area, this type of farming is quite important in terms of its commercial value.
  • Tea, coffee, rubber and oil palm are the major products of this type of farming. Most of the plantations were developed to provide some of the important tropical crops to the European markets.
  • Important plantation regions:
  • Tea gardens in India and Sri Lanka
  • Banana and sugar plantations in the West Indies
  • Coffee plantations in Brazil
  • Rubber in Malaysia
  • This is a highly capital-intensive farming and most of the crops are tree crops.


  • This type of agriculture system is mainly practiced in the Eurasian steppes in regions of chernozem soil, Canadian and American Prairies, the Pampas of Argentina, the Veld of South Africa, the Australian Downs and the Canterbury Plain of New Zealand.
  • The main characteristics of this type of agriculture are:
    • highly mechanized cultivation
    • farms are very large
    • predominance of wheat
    • low yield per acre but yield per capita is high.


  • This type of agricultural system is found in the highly developed parts of the world: north-western Europe, eastern North America, Russia, Ukraine, and the temperate latitudes of parts of the southern continents.
  • Farming is very intensive and sometimes highly specialized.
  • Traditionally, farmers have practised a mixed economy by raising animals and growing crops on the same farm.
  • Mixed farming is characterised by high capital expenditure on farm machinery and building, extensive use of chemical fertilisers and green manures and also by the skill and expertise of the farmers.


  • Dairy is the most advanced and efficient type of rearing of milch animals. It is highly capital intensive. Animal sheds, storage facilities for fodder, feeding and milking machines add to the cost of dairy farming. Special emphasis is laid on cattle breeding, health care and veterinary services.
  • It is highly labour intensive as it involves rigorous care in feeding and milching. There is no off season during the year as in the case of crop raising.
  • It is practised mainly near urban and industrial centres which provide neighbourhood markets for fresh milk and dairy products. The development of transportation, refrigeration, pasteurisation and other preservation processes have increased the duration of shortage of various dairy products.


  • It is practised mainly in the same region as that of mixed farming that consists of cultivation of vegetables, fruit and flowers solely for the urban market.
  • It is well-developed in the densely populated industrial districts of north-western Europe (Britain, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany) and in North-Eastern USA.

The regions where farmers specialise in vegetables only, the farming is known as truck farming. The distance of truck farms from the market is governed by the distance that a truck can cover overnight, hence the name truck farming.


  • Factory farming is a method of mass food production in which animals are kept in very confined areas in order to get the best possible profit.
  • This farming is particularly concentrated in Developed countries like USA, European nations, Australia etc.


  • A group of farmers form a co-operative society by pooling in their resources voluntarily for more efficient and profitable farming. Individual farms remain intact and farming is a matter of cooperative initiative.
  • Co-operative societies help farmers, to procure all important inputs of farming, sell the products at the most favourable terms and help in processing of quality products at cheaper rates.
  • Co-operative movement originated over a century ago and has been successful in many western European countries like Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Italy etc. In Denmark, the movement has been so successful that practically every farmer is a member of a co-operative.


  • The basic principle behind this type of farming is based on social ownership of the means of production and collective labour.
  • Collective farming or the model of Kolkhoz was introduced in the erstwhile Soviet Union to improve upon the inefficiency of the previous methods of agriculture and to boost agricultural production for self-sufficiency.
  • The farmers used to pool in all their resources like land, livestock and labour. However, they were allowed to retain very small plots to grow crops in order to meet their daily requirements.
  • Yearly targets were set by the government and the produce was also sold to the state at fixed prices.
  • Produce in excess of the fixed amount was distributed among the members or sold in the market. The farmers had to pay taxes on the farm produce, hired machinery etc.
  • Members were paid according to the nature of the work allotted to them by the farm management.
  • Exceptional work was rewarded in cash or kind. This type of farming was introduced in the former Soviet Union under the socialist regime which was adopted by the socialist countries. After its collapse, these have already been modified.


  • India is an agricultural economy where 49% of the people depend directly or indirectly on agriculture.
  • Net sown area still accounts for about 47% of the total land area of India.
  • In India, over 80 per cent of water is used in irrigation. Of the net sown area of around 140 million hectares (Mn ha), close to half (68.4 Mn ha) is irrigated (2019)
  • Major states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha among others are still majorly dependent on Agriculture.

GDP compositions in 2018-19 are as follows (ES2020)

  • Agriculture (16.5%)
  • Services (55.3%)
  • Industry (28.6%)
Facts/Data related to Agriculture sector
Share of agriculture and allied sectors in Gross Value Addition (GVA) has declined from 18.2 percent in 2014-15 to 16.5 percent in 2019-20.
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector is estimated to grow by 2.8 percent in 2019-20 as compared to growth of 2.9 percent in 2018-19.
According to the 2010-11 Agricultural Census, 47% of landholdings had become less than half a hectare in size. These holdings are too small to support a family of five so that many farmers now seek alternative sources of income – NITI 3-year action agenda
About 80 percent of farmers own less than two hectare.


  • Subsistence type of agriculture.
  • Dependent on unreliable and erratic monsoon (about 60 percent)
  • India’s vast relief, varying climate and soil conditions produce a variety of crops
  • All tropical, subtropical and temperate crops are grown across geographical areas.
  • Predominance of food crop → about 2/3rd of total cropped area.
  • Backbone of rural economy.
  • Plays critical role in ensuring food security
  • Poor electricity, storage, water, credit & marketing infrastructure.
  • Supports allied sectors and activities – cattle, poultry etc.
  • Major involvement of women in Indian agriculture sector
  • Characterized by poor mechanization, inadequate Agricultural research and extension services.
  • Fragmented nature of agricultural holding.


  • Productivity of Agriculture is defined as the number of crops produced per unit land.
  • Productivity levels in Indian agriculture are very low as compared to the productivity levels of other countries – China, USA etc.
  • Like in 2018, average productivity in India was 3075 Kg/ha while world average was 3200kg/ha.
  • Fertiliser use, irrigation and rainfall cause significant variation in productivity
  • Productivity in the regions of Green revolution are certainly higher than other areas. Other high productivity regions are Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
  • The productivity in Gangetic plain is reducing because of Land bifurcation leading to reduced size of land holdings.
  • Key issues affecting agricultural productivity include the decreasing sizes of agricultural land holdings, continued dependence on the monsooninadequate access to irrigationimbalanced use of soil nutrients resulting in loss of fertility of soil, uneven access to modern technology in different parts of the country, lack of access to formal agricultural creditlimited procurement of food grains by government agencies, and failure to provide remunerative prices to farmers.

Cropping Intensity

  • The ratio of the gross cropped area to the net sown area.
  • As the land is cropped multiple times, the cropping intensity increases.
  • It depends on factors like climate, demand of crops, availability of irrigation and other inputs etc.


  • A crop is a plant or animal product that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence.
Basic facts
India produced 284.83 Mn tons of food grains in 2018.
India is the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and jute.
India occupies a leading position in global trade of agricultural products, agricultural export basket accounts for a little over 2.15 per cent of the world agricultural trade.

Crop classification based upon the type of produce

Food cropsCrops used for human consumptionCereals, i.e. grass like plants with starchy edible seeds having high nutritional value – rice, wheat, maize. Pulses for e.g. gram tur etc.
Cash cropGrown for sale in raw or processed formCotton, jute, tobacco, castor, oilseeds
Plantation cropGrown in plantations covering large estates.Tea, coffee, coconut, rubber, spices, etc.
HorticultureFruits and vegetablesFruits (apple, mango, bananas) and vegetables (onion, tomato etc.)

Crop classification based upon climate

Crops grown well in hot and warm climateCrops grown well in cool climate
e.g. rice, sugarcane, jaware.g. wheat, gram, potato

Crop classification based on growing season

The kharifSeason starts in June and ends in October and largely coincides with Southwest Monsoon under which the cultivation of tropical crops such as rice, cotton, jute, jowar, bajra and tur is possible.
The rabiSeason begins with the onset of winter in October-November and ends in March-April. The low temperature conditions during this season facilitate the cultivation of temperate and subtropical crops such as wheat, gram and mustard.
ZaidShort duration summer cropping season beginning after harvesting of rabi crops. The cultivation of watermelons, cucumbers, vegetables and fodder crops during this season is done on irrigated lands. However, this type of distinction in the cropping season does not exist in southern parts of the country.
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