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India’s economy is growing, and the trend for gross domestic product from agricultural products is part of this growth. This lesson will explore the main agricultural products grown in India and the practices associated with growing these crops.

Produce in India

Vegetable korma is a delicious dish.

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It’s a creamy, spicy, curry-flavored mixture featuring a diversity of ingredients including ginger, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. This meal is often served alongside basmati rice or naan, an Indian flat bread. Vegetable korma is a good representation of the diversity of crops grown in India. Okay, enough dreaming about Indian food! Let’s learn about what crops are grown in India and the country’s agricultural practices.

Vegetable Korma


In the decade between 2003 and 2013, India’s agricultural exports almost grew eightfold! There are two categories of agricultural products grown in India: food crops and cash crops. Food crops are plants grown for humans to eat. Cash crops are plants grown to be sold for profit.

The specific region of the country determines what is best grown there.

Food Crops

The major food crops grown in India are:

  • Rice is grown in the east and north where there is plenty of rain and a mixture of sand, silt, and clay in the soil. Rice is a Kharif and Rabi crop. Kharif crops are grown between July and October during the southwest monsoon season. Rabi crops are grown between October and March.

    India is the second largest producer of rice in the world after China.

  • Wheat is a Rabi crop, and wheat production in India is ranked second in the world after China. It is grown in the northwest quadrant of India where the soil is a mixture of clay and sand. Wheat doesn’t need as much water as rice and can thrive in cooler temperatures.
  • Maize (corn) is a Kharif crop and predominately grown in the extreme northwestern part of the country.

    Through cultivation, it can be grown in rocky soils.

Cash Crops

The major cash crops in India are:

  • Cotton, a Kharif crop, is grown almost everywhere except in extreme northeastern parts of India. It needs black, nutrient-rich soil to grow.

    Cotton is called ”white gold” because it is so profitable.

  • Jute is the fiber that comes from the stem of two species of jute plants. Jute requires a lot of water and warm temperatures, which is why it is grown in east and northeast India. It is a Zaid crop, which means it is grown between the Kharif and Rabi growing seasons. The Ganges river delta produces over 80% of the world’s jute. Burlap sacks are made from jute fibers.

Burlap sack made from jute

  • Sugarcane is grown at the southern tip of India, in the midwestern and northwestern sections of the country. Sugarcane needs a lot of water and is a Kharif and Rabi crop. India is the second largest producer of sugarcane in the world.
  • Tea is a large export product of India and is grown in the extreme eastern part of the country near Bangladesh and in the southwestern tip near the Indian ocean. It can also be found in the extreme north between Pakistan and China. Tea needs a lot of water to grow, but the ground also needs to drain easily, so sloped terrain is best.

  • Coffee is grown at high altitudes. Well-drained soils on sloped land is ideal.
  • Spices are grown all over the country and are very important in Indian cuisine.

Crop Growing Practices

Growing crops in India depends on the climate and the geology of the area.

As we have mentioned, there are three growing seasons which revolve around monsoon season. Subsidence farming is prevalent in India, which is when families or small groups of people grow crops for their own consumption. Commercial farming is a major portion of India’s economy. In fact, the majority of the population in India depends on commercial farming for income.

A big factor that has affected crop production and types of crops grown was the Green Revolution during the 1960s and 1970s. The production of wheat became a larger export because it doesn’t require as much water as rice does. Also, in recent years, the Indian government has provided subsidies (money) to the agricultural industry with an emphasis on wheat and rice. Government money has gone to improving irrigation and providing fertilizer. The government also provides support in terms of price support of wheat and rice.

Price support is the minimum price at which a crop can be sold.Plantation farming is a common cash crop growing practice in India wherein large areas of land are used to grow one crop such as coffee, coconuts, tea, or rubber.

Lesson Summary

India’s crop-growing industries have expanded dramatically over the past decade. Government subsidies have provided money to improve irrigation and provide fertilizer, which has increased crop yields. The government has also provided price support for wheat and rice, which sets the minimum selling price of the product. The Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s caused a shift from growing rice to wheat because wheat requires less water.

The two major categories for crops grown in India are food crops (plants that are grown for humans to eat) and cash crops (plants grown to be sold for profit).

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