Cropping pattern refers to temporal or spatial arrangement of crops in a particular area. It is a cumulative result of long-term agricultural practices, physical conditions, government policies, monetary considerations and historical factors.
Changes due to consumption patterns:
- Area under millet cultivation is reduced as their consumption is substituted by cereals(rice/wheat) due to a rise in income, increased availability through PDS, penetration of their diversified value-added products, ease of preparation and short cooking time.
- Dietary transition towards more protein and mineral-rich foods resulted in increased cultivation of Pulses and Horticultural crops.
- Shift in demand for organic products, especially fruit and vegetables in cities, due to increased awareness in consumers led to increased areas of cultivation of organic crops. Ex., share of net area under organic farming in India increased from 0.9% in 2016 to 3.9% in 2022.
Changes due to market conditions:
- Government intervention in marketing:
- MSP support and Procurement policies changed cropping patterns in favour of cereal crops.
- Government subsidy support to sugar mills for procuring cane from farmers at FRP resulted in excessive sugar production. Area under cultivation of sugarcane in India almost doubled from 1990-91 to 2020-21.
- Export demand: Increased cultivation of commercial crops due to favourable export potential after LPG reforms. Area under foodgrains in the gross cropped area declined by 11% and was replaced by crops like oilseeds, fruits and vegetables and non-food crops in the last three decades.
- Contract-farming: New marketing arrangements like contract-farming between corporations/traders and farmers resulted in crop diversification and the introduction of new crops in many regions. E.g., Chicory farming in Punjab; Gherkins in Andhra Pradesh; Potato in Gujarat.
This dynamic relationship between consumption, markets, and cropping patterns underscores the need for responsive agricultural strategies to ensure food security and economic growth in India.