Cropping patterns

The cropping pattern refers to the distribution of crops in a particular region or country at a given point in time. This helps to understand the relative significance of different crops in the area. In India, during the time of independence, around 75% of the total cropped area was dedicated to food crops. The cropping pattern remained largely unchanged during the first three Five Year Plans from 1951 to 1966.

However, food crops gained even more importance with the advent of the Green Revolution and the rapid increase in population. Over time, diversification in the cropping pattern became evident, and by 1990-91, the pattern had become more complex with non-food crops gaining prominence. Rice and wheat still occupied around 40% of the cropped area, while oilseeds became more prominent occupying 13% and pulses occupied 14% of the cropped area. This indicates that the cropping pattern in India has undergone significant changes over time due to various factors such as population growth, technological advancements, and market demands.

Factors affecting cropping pattern

Geographical Factors:

  • Relief: Crop growth depends on geography and topography. Some crops require water drainage, like tea and coffee, grown on hill slopes. Rice is primarily cultivated in terraced hill slopes.
  • Soil: Soil type determines crop selection. Rice grows well in clayey soil, wheat in loamy soil, cotton in regur soil, and coarse grains in inferior soil. 
  • Temperature: Kharif crops need higher temperatures and are sown in summer, while rabi crops need lower temperatures and are sown in winter. 
  • Rainfall: It is a crucial factor affecting crop choices and cropping patterns. The amount and distribution of rainfall influence the choice of crops grown in a particular region.

Economic Factors:

  • Irrigation: It is an important input and assumes greater significance in arid and semi-arid areas. Rainfall is scanty and erratic in these areas and crops cannot sustain without irrigation.
  • Size of Land Handholding: If farmers have small landholdings, their priority would be to cultivate food grains for their own consumption first and then consider growing commercial crops only if they have additional land available beyond their personal needs.
  • Sale price of crops and Income of Farmers: In order to improve their income, farmers strive to obtain the highest possible price for their crops. However, in regions where farmers are unable to secure profitable prices for their produce, they opt to cultivate cash crops instead.
  • Insurance: The Indian monsoon climate exhibits significant deviations from typical weather patterns, which can cause substantial losses for farmers if their crops are damaged, either partially or completely. To address this issue, the government has implemented various measures to offer crop insurance coverage to farmers, such as the PM Fasal Bima Yojana.
  • Investment: Significant financial resources are necessary to alter the cropping pattern as it entails substantial expenses related to irrigation, seed acquisition, fertilizer usage, and farm equipment.

Political Factors / Government Policies:

Government policies can shape the cropping pattern by incentivizing certain crops and limiting others. Rural road improvements can also influence crop choices, as farmers may choose more profitable crops with easier access to urban markets.

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