This article throws light upon the six main types of clubbed zones in agro-climatic zones. The types are: 1. Western Himalayan Region 2. Eastern Himalayan Region 3. Indo-Gangetic Plains 4. Southern Plateau 5. Farming in Coastal Plains 6. Western Dry Region.
Agro-Climatic Region # 1. Western Himalayan Region:
The economic scene of the region is dominated by crop husbandry food grain and vegetable cultivation and livestock breeding. Cropping system is mainly cereal based—rice, ragi and wheat arc major crops. This area is grossly short of pulses and oilseed production is negligible.
The per hectare nutrient application is only 10 kgs. Rice and wheat is cultivated in valleys and hill slopes near villages with the availability of irrigation. Ragi is cultivated in high reaches of hills.
Rice and wheat cultivation be confined in the valleys wherever irrigation is available. Since ragi is a low value crop it should be replaced by crops like soya-bean, grasses and legumes for forage purpose which would help maintain ecological balance by checking soil erosion.
Crop intensity should be increased to get better returns in irrigated valleys high value crops such as vegetable seeds, sunflower, ornamental flowers, spices and mushroom be cultivated.
Tarai region is akin for paddy and wheat seed production. Horticulture should be given top priority and should be improved through quality improvement, establishing small nurseries with trained persons. In horticultural crop production technology, like application of fertilizer, be used.
Research efforts must be strengthened in water requirement and its availability. Water management technology like drip irrigation be developed. Training and extension facilities need to be developed. On the front of marketing—it suffers on account of high transportation cost, costly packages, and exploitation by intermediaries. It is, therefore, suggested that terminal markets be established with storage facilities.
Reducing the marketing problems need following strategies:
1. Ropeway and link roads,
2. Corrugate cartoon factory.
Processing Seeds is Limited to:
1. Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation Limited (HPMC) at Parwarnoo.
2. Jammu and Kashmir located HPMC with 18,000 and 12,000 tonnes capacity respectively.
Agro-Climatic Region # 2. Eastern Himalayan Region:
This region comprises of Assam, Arunachal, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Sikkim (8 States) Under West Bengal come Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Cooch Bihar.
Physiographically this region is divided into three units:
(a) The hill and mountains of folded topography,
(b) The peninsular plateau,
(c) The plains.
The climate varies from tropical in plains to alpine in high hills. There is swamp and drainage problem around rivers. The extent of water table used is 33.33% and surface water resources are 4.88 lakh m.cm. Even then 18.5% of the sown area is irrigated largely by way of surface flow.
There is one tube-well per 117.75 hectares. The land use: Forest 38.5% under forest; 15.59% under crops, and 7.07% under non- agricultural use, waste land is 8.10%. Shifting agriculture is practiced. The soil is acidic with a pH of 4.5-5.0, shallow in depth, the low pH is due to high rainfall leaching out the bases.
The problem posed is on account of continuous thinning of forests cover in catchment areas which leads to soil erosion and depletion in the hills and resulting flood in the plains. Transport and communication is weak thus marketing infrastructure is weak and underdeveloped.
The status of agriculture shows two types of agricultural practices:
(i) Settled farming in plains, valleys, foot hills and terraced slopes,
(ii) Shifting cultivation in hills accounting for 35.24% of totaled cultivated area.
Cropping pattern is mainly rice except in Sikkim where maize is cultivated. 80% of the gross cultivated area is under food crops. Subsistence farming is practiced. The cropping intensity is 118% because of low water utilization.
The High Yielding Variety Technology has not gained momentum in terms of irrigation and fertilizers which in nutrient terms is only 10.27 kgs per hectare against the national average of 36.8 kgs per hectare. There are two fruit crops having fine varieties: oranges and pineapple having 30,000 hectares and 24,000 hectares under them respectively.
The demand for livestock meat is in short supply than the demand for it. There is shortage of firewood and fodder. 70 per cent land remains unutilized in Tarai and hilly regions because of existing land use system.
Transport and communication problems have become a bottleneck with its high cost which causes limits to the scope of exploitation of development potentials in terms of bamboo, ginger cultivation in Mizoram and plantation crop in Tripura, horticultural crops in Arunachal Pradesh.
The bottle neck too has affected the supply and distribution of inputs. There is a shortage and lag in supply of seeds of recommended varieties to different agro-climatic situations. Poor breeds of drought animals is insufficient as animal energy. The livestock farming although the situation for them is ideal in the region remains by and large unorganized and underdeveloped.
Bamboo and silk are the two potential areas of farming but which only supplies 200 tonnes of natural silk against a requirement of 15,000 tonnes. Bamboo plantation is exhausting.
Suggestion for Improvement:
The problems mentioned as above could be sorted out through:
1. The introduction of HYV rice with package of practices in fertilizer and increasing irrigation potentials.
2. In the sphere of horticultural development fruit production and processing be taken up seriously.
3. Top priority should be given in the area of soil conservation and control of shifting cultivation.
4. Depleting practices in agricultural system must be done with through creation of conditions including reorientation of values, organization of joint farming system in community owned lands, development of irrigation potential and input supply.
5. Transport bottleneck need to be removed.
6. To support input supply of seed, fertilizer, etc. storage and warehousing facilities need to be given top priority.
7. Breeding of efficient strains of drought animals on extensive scale is needed.
8. In order to meet the animal product in meat and eggs genetic improvements of breeds and scientific management practices should be adopted. In addition stress must be given to soil conservation practices for better fodder crop production.
9. Higher priority should be given to bamboo cultivation and sericulture crops like mulberry. Despite the fact that the eastern Himalayan region is endowed with rich bounties of nature but there is poverty amidst plenty. In this respect the degradation and erosion of forest be immediately checked for planning other strategies of development and by providing self-sufficiency in food-grains.
It is, therefore, necessary to have an integrated approach to solve all these problems.
This integrated approach will involve forestry, plantation crops, horticulture and animal husbandry, agriculture and fisheries. Also dealing with the problems of soil and water conservation in the hills. There has been recommendation for floriculture, aromatic plant and medicinal plants, and mushroom cultivation in selected areas.
The suggested strategy largely follows from the alternative land use plans recommended on the basis of soil character and land capability status. For a better land use it is desirable to grow rice at lower terraces and valleys, maize in the middle and ragi on the upper terraces in contour bunds. Terraces on the steep slopes are suitable for fodder.
Horticultural crops are recommended where the soil has a minimum depth of one meter. Grassed water ways and benched terraces at lower slopes towards the foothills, where maize and vegetables can be grown are good soil conservation practices.
Land up to 100% slope with a minimum of 5 meter soil depth is recommended for livestock farming. Those grasses and legumes which can grow successfully be planted on pastures and degraded slopes but the emphasis should be on fast growth of plants and adaptability on poor soil.
Harvesting of rain waters in suggested in upper region of hilly areas. The places where irrigation and input is absent jhum cultivation with modification is recommended.
In order to have regular supply of essential commodities market complexes should come up around cultivated complexes. The sub-area II and III have ideal conditions for tea crop cultivation as soil, is red loamy and acidic. Small scale homestead and government may organize village tea production in the potential areas.
Agro-Climatic Region # 3. Indo-Gangetic Plains:
In order to have a sustained economic development a holistic view of soil, water and climatic resources be taken up.
The Indo-Gangetic plains which is further subdivided into:
1. Lower Gangetic Plains,
2. Middle Gangetic Plains,
3. Upper-Gangetic Plains, and
4. Trans-Gangetic Plains.
This zone is blessed by the three river systems, viz., Beas and Sutlej, Ganga and its tributaries, and Brahmaputra. This region has the deepest soil tract with 2400 kilometers long and 240-320 kilometers wide which is the sediment deposit called dust of mountain. The soil are clay, loam, and silt. This is the wheat and rice bowl of India and can grow various sub-tropical crops.
The distribution of crops zone wise is concentrated in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Cotton is localized in Trans-Gangetic plains. Rice is the staple crop in lower and middle Gangetic plains and wheat is an important crop in trans, upper and middle Gangetic plains.
Pulses are concentrated in trans-gangetic plains. Cereals, pulses and oilseeds are the major crops in the Indo-Gangetic plains. Cash crops are cotton, sugarcane and tobacco. The common crop sequence is Rice-Wheat.
Maize and rice based agro-industry need to be developed. Fruits, vegetables and kharif pulses should replace upland rice and millet. Rajma cultivation be pushed up. Rice is cultivated in 40% area of the zone—its yield need to be improved and stabilized.
Rice should not remain a mono-crop but there should be a rotation of rice/ wheat/maize/potato/oilseeds/pulses for small farms. The cultivation of short duration rice by taken up with 25 kg/hectare fertilizer application and zinc deficiency be met with.
Water harvesting need to be done. Oilseed production be encouraged, the utilization of wetland be done for production of water chest nut (Sighara). There should be thrust on the production of fruit crops like mango, litchi, guava, pineapple, and coconut. Animal husbandry and fish culture encouraged and promoted.
The Upper-Gangetic Zone must optimize in the use of land and water with diversification of agriculture. There must be improvement of farm productivity land- water development, and crop planning. Land should be diverted from low value crops to development of horticulture with the support of storage; processing and marketing facilities must be developed with investment for the development of infrastructure.
In the Trans-Gangetic Plains: 60% labour produces 40% income and crop raised are: wheat, rice, pearl millet, cotton, rape-seed, mustard, and sugarcane is combined with animal husbandry along with fruits, vegetables, fisheries and forestry.
The strategy should be higher productivity through soil, water, crop management system with the aim of balanced eco-system through optimal combination of crops, livestock, orchards, fruit trees, forest with appropriate flood control and drainage system.
The major strategy being:
(i) Improvement of waterlogged areas,
(ii) Correction of soil salinity, and natural imbalance,
(iii) Improvement of irrigation use efficiency,
(iv) Flood control and drainage of land, and
(v) Efficient utilization of ground water resources.
The change in cropping pattern suggested: rice-wheat be directed to other crops such as maize, pulses, oilseeds, and fodder. There is prime need to develop infrastructure facilities for vegetable, fruit production and marketing. There is a great potential in these zones with the help of economic and social objectives with a holistic approach.
Agro-Climatic Region # 4. Southern Plateau:
The plateau extends to three regions: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. These cover 35 districts which are further grouped into six sub-regions in accordance to similarities in agro-climatic conditions. The characteristics of these region is an annual precipitation of 676 mm to 1000 mm being received between June and September permitting the cultivation of kharif crops. The major area is drought prone.
In this way the strategies for development to sophisticated farming necessitated for entering into twenty-first century are:
To provide ideal means for integrated development which must be extended to all plateau areas. This approach requires accelerated training which must be ecological friendly. Crop production will assume importance in this area with priority to mixed cropping and substitution of low value crops like jowar with high value crops like groundnut in some areas.
Mixed cropping with inter cropping be practiced and an encouragement of fertilizer consumption in dry lands. Afforestation be taken up for fuel and building wood and implements. Dry land horticulture has a lot of scope with crops such as mango, guava, tamarind, pomegranate, beer, jamun, sapota, jackfruit and cashew nut.
There is a contrasting feature in the use of water that is, the command area water is used for irrigation but the ground-water remains unexploited, thus in both cases production suffers in terms of over and underutilization of water resources respectively. Canal water use is irrational having over use at the head reaches and under use at tailed reaches and is unscientific of canal water use.
Achievement of efficient water use could be through:
1. Discouragement of crops as paddy having larger water use,
2. Optimizing sowing and planting dates of crops.
3. Developing cropping plans distributor-wise.
4. Exploiting rain water for such operations as land preparation and sowing.
5. Matching crops with soils.
High value horticultural crops may be had by exploiting ground water which is only 50% of the potential in conjuncture with rainfall, such fruit crops could be lemon, grapes, turmeric, banana, vegetables, and flowers. Large scale demonstrations are needed to appreciate the value of water to increase the efficiency of its use.
Dairying has shown a perceptible progress but there is an urgent need to support the further progress in areas of fodder production, veterinary services and animal nutrition. Sheep farming has immense scope. Stall feeding of goats should be popularized. Fish farming is already existing in-land waters should be promoted.
Another area for sophisticated agriculture are: retention of talented youths on land. Opportunities for more farm employment, and equipping the farmers with new knowledge and skill. This is possible only if rural life becomes more attractive by way of developing life conveniences like running water, drainage, sewage, primary health care, community facilitates.
For increasing the gainful employment processing of agricultural produces, custom hire services for ploughing, harvesting and plant protection. Extension services like Training and Visit (T & V) in needed.
Agro-Climatic Region # 5. Farming in Coastal Plains:
The characteristic features of East and West coasts are: The zones 11 and 12 comprising of Eastern and Western coastal plains.
The two zones are different from each other in their chief characteristic in the following ways:
(a) The West Coast Plain:
The west coast plain is a narrow strip wedged in between Sahayadrio and the Arabian sea is sharply demarcated for most to 1400 kilometers length except in a few places where there are gaps in hills. The plains of coastal districts of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu has an area of 7.3 million hectares of coastal plains.
The west coast soils are mainly made up, of laterite, lateritic soils, clay loams and sandy loam, gravely clay and coastal sand. The west coast gets 2000-4000 mm rainfall. The irrigation facilities in west coast in much less 7.17% excepting the coastal districts of Karnataka which has 33% irrigation.
The main source of irrigation are canals, tanks and wells. The west coast has a net sown area of 27.00 lakh hectares and a cropping intensity of 125 per cent.
(b) The Eastern Coast Plains:
Its length is 3000 kilometers. The plain area comprises of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Union Territory of Pondicherry. Its geographical area is 19.6 million hectares. A great variety of soil types (about eight types) which are potentially fertile. They are predominately of deltaic alluvia’s, red sandy loams, sandy loams, sandy clay, red loams, coastal sand, coastal alluvian, and black soil.
The east coast receives lower rainfall of 780-1300 mm. A substantial area is under irrigation in south coastal Andhra Pradesh 56%, north coastal Tamil Nadu 57%, and Thanjavur delta 86%. In other three regions, the irrigated area ranges between 38- 48%. The net sown area in the east coast plains is 85.80 lakh hectares and gross cropped area 114.66 lakh hectares with cropping intensity of 134%.
The problem in the coastal area comprises of:
(1) Flooding in the Deltas:
Pockets of the low lying area remain submerged under brackish water and the east zone is plagued with water congestion and flooding in the events of heavy rains. Cyclones gales and heavy rains are from September to November in the eastern coast does a lot of damage to crops.
Impeded or obstructing drainage, inundation and of sea water are the causes of salinity and alkalinity problems which remain unfit for crop production or give very poor yield. Leaching causes loss of water and nutrients from the soil and help forming acidic and laterite soil. Slopes causes soil erosion.
(2) Leaching Problems:
This is found in both coasts. Heavy rain is received in west coast and Orissa and the land is rainfed (80-90%). Tanks are important sources of irrigation and are in neglected conditions causing inefficient irrigation.
The causes of low productivity are nutritional deficiency of soil, pest and diseased Phosphorus and zinc deficiency are found in the region. Laterite soil suffers from aluminum and iron toxicity. Potassium and calcium are in inadequate supplies. Pest attacking plants are brownie plant hoppers, gall midge.
Blast and Sheath Blight are Common Diseases:
Suggestions for Improvement:
Technological applications are important need of the area. Integrated approach for watershed development is needed. Top priority should be given to management of efficient irrigation sources like tank, canal system, underground water and irrigation water management in the field demand top priority.
Water congestion is another serious problem which limits rice production in one million hectare land. Unreliable irrigation and obstructed drainage causes poor rice productivity. Irrigation and drainage demand full attention.
There is aquaculture potential for both brackish water and fresh water fish farming in both the coasts. Rice farming with fishery can be combined. Research should be directed towards HYV in rice and pulses and pest management through biotic and chemical approaches. Integrated nutrient supply through regulating waste materials and residues. Design and development of farm equipment. Crop yield should be raised.
Group participation for land reclamation, water land development, irrigation water management, drainage improvement, production and distribution of quality seeds, crop diversification for alternative economic crops, such as soybean, mustard, oil palm, fruits and vegetables, rice-fish farming.
Agro-Climatic Region # 6. Western Dry Region:
Includes nine districts of Rajasthan Bamar, Bikaner, Churu, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jhingar, Jodhpur, Nagore, Sikur. These are characterized by hot desert, scanty and irruptive rainfall, high evaporation, high wind, sparse vegetation. Drought and famine are common occurrences resulting in migration of human and livestock population.
Human population is 10.18 millions with population density of 58 persons per square kilometers. Area under forest is 1.8% cultivable wasteland and follow 42.2%, pastures and grazing land 4.3%. Net irrigated area is 6.3%, net sown area of which 93% is irrigated by ground water.
The average farm size is 8.9 hectares with only 105%cropping intensity, kharif crop amounts to 90.5% of the total cropped area. Of the kharif crop; 49.2% is bajra, 27% guar, moth 15.5%, the total of which comes to 91.7% of the cropped area. The yield of these crops is very low.
Livestock density is 1.08 heads per hectare and 1.86 animals per man. Cattle breeds are: Tharparkar, and Rathi, Sheeps are Chokale and Nahi, Goats and Camels. The livestock get their support by perennial grasses like Sewan, Dhamen, Anjan, Karad and leguminous bushes and arid tress like Khejuri.
The important programmes for this area are:
i. Indira Gandhi Nahar Project.
ii. Desert Development Programme.
The strategy and approach development in Eighth Plan are:
a. Strategic Goal and Approach:
For keeping a balance between human and nature and livestock—the livestock and crop should be two main systems. In order to support both the systems irrigation water management, forestry and pasture development and input management service to be treated as a system. There should be integration for mutual reinforcement.
Water resources is limited from the ground water sources, net irrigated area in 1983-84 was 8.33 lakh hectares. The crop system, livestock system are the main systems. The crop system is bifurcated into two: viz., rainfed crops and irrigated crops.
Both have certain strategy to increase output of crops like Bajra, moth, guar and fodder under rainfed by popularizing improved varieties, intensifying efforts to evolve diseases resistant varieties of bajra, guar, moth, popularizing moisture conservation and water harvesting practices, research, promotion efforts on arid fruits, medicinal plants, developing tractor and machinery cooperatives, price support for moth and guar and programme for range and forest development.
In case of irrigated areas the strategy for development would be: Encouragement to pastures and fodder, increasing productivity of gram, rape-seed, and mustard, intensifying promotion efforts in cumin and onion, popularizing fish farming along canals, and strengthen research on irrigation water management.
In supporting systems for the main crops and livestock systems comprises of irrigation and water management, forestry, pasture development and input service management.
b. The Promotion of Irrigation shall be through:
Conjunction use of surface and ground water, irrigated fodder be emphasized, research efforts on salinity tolerant crops, popularizing drip and sprinkler irrigation, lining of irrigation canals, leveling of moderately sloping grounds or land, and the research effort on solar, wind and biomass energy.
c. Forestry Strategy would be:
Trees plantation in cultivable waste and follow lands, canal sides, settlements, popularizing silvipastural system and popularizing biogas, biomass and smokeless Chula.
d. The Pasture Development Strategy would be:
Arrangement of improved seeds of grasses to farmers, increase research and promoting efforts on nutritive grasses, and organize efforts to maintain fodder stock.
e. Input Service Management Strategy:
Providing quality seeds of moth, bajra, improved seeds of nutritive grasses and biomass; introducing price support in moth, guar, and cowpea; establish an agency to procure stock and distribute fodder; establish veterinary aid centres within eight kilometers of every village; establish livestock based industries; set up marketing outlet; to gear credit delivery system; and to organize tractor and machinery cooperatives.
Besides, the main systems of crop and livestock production and its supporting systems, there is another programme of Specific Action Points:
These are thirteen in number:
1. Programme on improving production of fodder grasses through aerial seeding, production and supply of seeds of suitable grasses, identifying of contagious areas suitable for aerial seeding. Distribution of grass seeds to individual farmers.
2. Livestock improvement through improving local cattle breeds: By establishing units covering cows, improving sheep for carpet and medium fine wool in all districts.
3. Fodder storage and security by training fanners, centres for silage and hay making to be set up in all districts; buffer stocking and distribution of fodder to be taken up as pilot project in one district.
4. Ground water development by identifying of possibilities of sinking more wells in districts of Churu, Jalore, Jhunjhun, Jodhpur, Nagore, Sitara; raising subsidiary components ?
5. Popularizing high technology sprinkler and drip irrigation systems.
6. Promotion of wool carpet industry by taking up of feasibility study in Jodhpur, Nagora, Bihamer, Barmer, Jaisalmer and Jhunadid by pilot projects.
7. Arid fruit development: Research units to be established for arid fruits; initiating Operational Research Project in Baherrar, Jaisalmar, Jalore, and Jodhpur districts each; covering 1000 hectares.
8. Establishing and increasing the yields of arid crops such as Bajra, Guar, and Moth through the Operational Research Projects (ORP) in district Baharmedth; Production and supply of improved variety seeds; Price support for moth and guar in all districts.
9. Livestock based industry. Identification by feasibility studies and setting up industrial units.
10. Research Programmes for land use and farming systems by establishing research units for formulation optimum systems suited to various micro-regions at Bikaner and other representative locations.
11. Khejuri Development. By establishing technology centres for Khejuri and other arid trees; plantation of ten million arid trees on private and common lands.
12. Operational Research on identification of crops and water management practices for use of saline water, conjunctive use of general and canal water surface irrigation methods.
13. Developing and Perfecting the technology for conserving rain water through Operational Research Projects in Bikaner and Jodhpur districts.
The macro-economic approach toward the development of agriculture, if the work done by the imminent scientists in the field, is taken seriously and the recommendation implemented then of course we shall be able to enter the twenty-first century with sufficient preparedness and make the country (India) stand on her two feet in the era of liberalization.