Farming Systems in India
Before we can begin with the idea of successful farming, we must first understand what is farming, the farming systems in India and what are the current drawbacks. This will give a clearer idea of what is currently happening and what improvements can be done to promote successful farming.
Let us begin with farming. For the definition and a general idea of farming, you can refer our Introduction section (a link can be given here).
Farming is done to cultivate land to grow crops and livestock. Wheat and barley were the first crops that were grown, but now farming has grown multifold and expanded to provide multiple food grain options. Crops are grown by region, climate, soil types, seasons and so on. Across the world, people cultivate land to grow and maintain farms. Farmers maintain the farms and harvest crops and sell them to markets to make a living for themselves and their families.
Farmer’s families also pitch in to maintain farms and farming activities such as harvesting and collecting food for themselves, their families and to sell to the local markets nearby. These days ‘farmers markets’ have gained immense popularity across the world. A farmers market is a great initiative invented to let farmers sell directly to consumers without any middleman being involved or without selling to a local market. Farmers markets are held during certain times in a year where farmers come to the city and sell their products to consumers.
Consumers love the fresh produce direct from the farm instead of buying them from stores. These markets are temporary and makeshift and once the sales are complete, the markets disappear till the next time. Farmers markets can be indoors or outdoors but are typically outdoors. Some of the products sold in these markets are fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and even prepared food and beverages. The idea is appealing to the consumer as there are no pesticides or preservatives added and hence they get fresh organic produce.
Farmers markets were popular in the Western Countries alone earlier but are now a rage in India too. IT professionals, entrepreneurs and other professionals are also moving from regular jobs to start small ventures to help farmers deliver their produce to the city folk. The Government is also encouraging such initiatives to help farmers make a better living for themselves.
Farmer’s market in India.
Farmers market abroad
Farming Systems in India –
If you look for Farming Systems online, you will find numerous websites stating various types of farming systems. The number of types varies, but our job here at www.myfasal.com is not to confuse readers but to simplify the concepts of farming. So what we have listed below are the major farming systems and a brief and simple explanation about each system, without going too much into details, as we are considering beginners as well.
So just to get an idea of some of the types of farming systems followed in India, read on.
Farming systems are practices followed based on certain criteria such as location, availability of soil, natural resources, etc.
The main categories of farming systems are subsistence farming, organic farming, commercial agriculture, shifting agriculture, plantation agriculture, intensive and extensive agriculture, dry and wetland farming, mixed agriculture, crop rotation, dairy farming and terrace agriculture.
This list is a collection of popular categories of farming in India and may not include all the possible practices followed.
Subsistence farming –
Subsistence farming is practiced by a majority of farmers in India and is done by farmers on a smaller scale with little or no resources. This sort of farming is done for farmer’s own consumption needs, i.e., to provide for themselves and their families. Usually, the families chip in to help in the fields or farms. The tools are primitive and the farmers seldom use fertilizers for lack of funds. The productivity of this sort of farming is lower compared to others as there are no resources available to them such as irrigation or electricity. The crops cultivated from subsistence farming are usually cereals, oil-seeds, pulses, vegetables and sugarcane.
Organic farming –
Organic farming is a system that cultivates land by using organic wastes, biological materials and bio-fertilizers as resources for the soil. This kind of farming yields crops that are sustainable and eco-friendly, free of synthetic products. The FAO encourages the use of organic farming to provide an agro-ecosystem using agronomic, biological and mechanical methods to improve the soil quality and provide and healthier crops. Soil fertility is an important factor in farming and agriculture and this is taken care of by the means of organic farming. The main benefit of organic farming is that it helps maintaining the environmental health by reducing the level of pollution. It is found to be a little bit more laborious as weeds need to be manually removed. Crops that are cultivated through organic farming are cereals, soybeans, corn, fruits, vegetables, livestock etc.
Commercial agriculture –
This is the opposite of subsistence farming. Here crops are grown to be sold in the market and hence it also involved usage of modern techniques and tools for farming and irrigation. The yield is obviously higher in this method of farming and some of the crops grown through commercial agriculture are cotton, jute, sugarcane and groundnut. Crops are grown on a large scale on plantations and estates and shipped out for sale to other countries.
Shifting agriculture –
Sometimes after a few years of continuously cultivating land for crops, the yield tends to declines. This could be due to soil exhaustion, pests or weeds. Whatever the reason, once this happens the land is then cleared by slash and burn methods allowing for the natural renewal of the land. Crops such as rice, paddy, corn, buck-wheat, small millets and vegetables are grown in this system of agriculture. The per-hectare yield is low and is a wasteful form of farming.
Plantation agriculture –
Here a single cash crop is cultivated on plantations or estates on a large scale. Examples are tea, coffee, spices, cocoa, coconut, fruit crops and rubber. Plantation farming is also called bush or tree farming.
Intensive and extensive agriculture –
Intensive farming is a system where greater capital and labor are used for smaller areas of land, whereas extensive farming is just the opposite. The yield per unit area is high in Intensive farming systems. Crops grown are rice, wheat and sugarcane.
Dry and wetland farming –
Dryland farming is done in areas where the rainfall is less than 9 inches in a year. Crops grown in this method are wheat, corn, beans, sunflower and watermelon. Wetland farming is done in the land that is saturated with water. They provide flood protection, enhanced water quality, food chain support and carbon sequestration. Sometimes the wetlands are drained to convert them into agricultural land. The Ramsar Convention, which is a Convention on Wetlands, was formed to design framework for the wise use of wetlands and their resources. To know more about conservation of wetlands, please visit – www.ramsar.org. Some wetland crops grown in India are rice, jute and sugarcane.
Mixed agriculture –
Mixed farming refers to growing crops and animals simultaneously by farmers. Such farmers are found to be economically more stable. Crops such as millet and cowpea, millet and sorghum, etc. are a form of mixed farming.
Crop rotation –
As the name suggests, this type of farming system involves rotating crops that are grown. For instance, different crops are grown alternately. Example leguminous crops are grown alternately with wheat, barley and mustard. This is effective in controlling weeds, pests, diseases and is an economic way of utilizing soil.
Dairy Farming –
Dairy farming is a relatively easier form of livestock farming used to milk. India produces tons of milk for sales and is a livelihood for many across India, especially Haryana.
Terrace agriculture –
In this method of agriculture, hills or mountains are cut out like terraces along the slopes and land is cultivated. The hills look like steps and the crops grown in this method are pulses, oilseeds, millets, vegetables, fruits, saffron, buckwheat, black cumin, maize, wheat, etc.
One of the major setbacks faced in India is the decline in the agricultural sector over the years due to high growth rates of the industrial and service sectors.
A majority of people in India depend on rural incomes.
Agriculture in India depends largely on monsoons. Farmers are affected severely by this as well as the annual production of food grains goes down. This, in turn, affects employment.
Inequality in land ownership is another factor and even among them some maybe uneconomic
The growth of population has led to sub-division of agricultural land into smaller plots. Some farmers sell their portion of land to recover debts and this can create further sub-division of land and this leads to inefficient farming systems in place that is hardly productive
The condition of farmers is unsatisfactory and many are unemployed for various reasons
The systems and techniques or technology used in farming can be better
Marketing of agricultural produce needs to be increased for successful farming.
There are many other factors that lead to the drawbacks and lack of progressive farming and in a competitive world, this cannot happen, especially when other countries have far better technologies and liberal systems.
Listed below are some steps to implement successful farming –
⦁ To achieve successful farming a productive, competitive, diversified and sustainable farming system must be developed to encourage and sustain farming and agriculture and also generate revenue.
⦁ Agricultural productivity per unit of land must be raised by increasing and improving water resources, increasing yields, upgrading to higher value crops and developing value chains to reduce marketing costs. Agriculture is the largest user of water in our country and with urbanization; lesser water resources are available for irrigation. This has to change as water is essential for the growth and sustenance of crops. Methods must be developed to preserve ground-water by keeping a watch on the amount of water being pumped for irrigation
⦁ Rural development is of utmost importance to benefit the poor, landless, women, scheduled castes and tribes.
⦁ Meeting the supply and demand needs. The slow-down in agricultural growth has become a major cause for concern. India’s rice yields are one-third of China’s and about half of those in Vietnam and Indonesia. This needs to change soon
⦁ Policies must be made to improve productivity, enhance rural growth and make India internationally competitive.
⦁ Promote and implement better technologies and reform agricultural research and extension, for which funding is needed, especially for research. There is currently minimal connection between research and extension and the private sector.
⦁ Farms must be better managed and efficient delivery systems must be developed
⦁ Irrigation must be modernized, cost recovery must be improved, public expenditures must be rationalized and efficient means must be developed to allocate resources
⦁ Farmers must be encouraged to diversify into higher value commodities particularly in rain-fed areas where poverty is high. The Government can, first and foremost, liberalize constraints to marketing, transport, export and processing to encourage diversification. It can also play a small regulatory role, taking due care that this does not become an impediment.
⦁ Promoting high growth commodities such as milk. Milk production is constrained by the poor genetic quality of cows, inadequate nutrients, inaccessible veterinary care, and other factors. A targeted program to tackle these constraints could boost production and reduce poverty.
⦁ Developing markets, agricultural credit and public expenditures is another initiative that can be put into place. Private sector investment in marketing, value chains and agro-processing is still growing at a slow pace.
⦁ Improving access to rural finance for farmers is another need as it remains difficult for farmers to get credit. Moreover, subsidies on power, fertilizers and irrigation have progressively come to dominate Government expenditures on the sector.
⦁ Alleviate poverty by inculcating rural livelihood programs that empower communities to become self-reliant.
⦁ Sustaining the environment and future agricultural productivity
⦁ Water-logging must be prevented and so also soil erosion. This can be tackled through watershed management programs to protect soils, increase water absorption and raise productivity through higher yields and crop diversification.
⦁ The World Bank’s agriculture and rural development program in India is the largest program worldwide. The Bank’s Agricultural and Rural Development portfolio is clustered across three broad themes with each project, generally, showing a significant integration of these themes. These are – Agriculture, watershed and natural resources management, Water & irrigated agriculture and Rural livelihood development
⦁ The World Bank is also supporting R&D in Agricultural Technology through two national level projects with pan-India implementation coordinated by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), a Government of India enterprise.
⦁ The World Bank is also supporting for the better delivery of irrigation water from projects covering large irrigation infrastructure to local tanks and ponds.
⦁ Sustainable agricultural practices through watershed and rain-fed agriculture development
⦁ Agricultural insurance by advising GOI on how to improve the actuarial design and implementation of the insurance program
⦁ Improved farmer access to agriculture markets through policy reforms and investments under the Maharashtra Agricultural Competitiveness Project which aims to reform regulated wholesale markets and provide farmers with alternative market opportunities.
⦁ Better rural connectivity through IDA support to the Prime Minister’s National Rural Roads Program (PMGSY), and by connecting rural poor and smallholder farmers through collective action to public services through Self-Help Groups.
How can you contribute?
There are many ways to contribute in your own way toward successful farming. One such method is by joining the IAP (Indian Agriculture Professionals) network which is a large group of professionals connected in agriculture. They encourage farmers, professionals and entrepreneurs to come forward and connect and contribute in any way possible. The Indian Society of Agriculture Professionals (ISAP) is an NGO working towards the noble cause of empowerment of agriculture in rural India. To join this group – please log on their official website and learn what they do. Let us collectively work towards a productive, sustainable and improved agriculture industry worldwide.