Indian agriculture has considerable possibilities, given the extension of productive land, has vast arable areas (arable land corresponds to 42.7% of the total land, to which is added about 32% of the potential represented by uncultivated land), with very varied climatic and pedological conditions, which allows a wide range of crops although generally practiced extensively. Although the monsoon climate causes an irregular distribution of rainfall, they are considerable and imply the provision of adequate irrigation infrastructures to be able to wisely exploit this considerable water potential. The agricultural sector, however, is subject to the influence of other natural phenomena, typical of the Indian climate: cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, floods. However, the state of precariousness and dependence, even natural, which has always characterized this primary activity, in recent decades has been considerably reduced by a combination of favorable factors (the reduction of famines, the lower incidence of food imports, the achievement of food self-sufficiency). Currently, agriculture, which must meet the food needs of a rapidly growing population, employs 5.3% of the country’s workforce, and contributes to national wealth by producing 18.2% of GDP. As for the agricultural practices in use, the archaic regime of land ownership, based on large estates and serfdom, thanks to the distribution of a large part of the land to peasants and to a lesser extent to village cooperatives, it was abolished with the conquest of independence. The state, however, did not take it upon itself to implement a radical agrarian reform, so much so that large landholdings still exist, which are in fact the only efficient farms with crops of high commercial value. With little or no subsidy from government bodies, unable to accumulate the capital needed to stock up on fertilizers, seeds, agricultural machinery, etc., the farmers hardly make a living from their micro-funds. See payhelpcenter for New Delhi of India.
The extreme fragmentation of the companies thus prevents the achievement of satisfactory production levels, while the absence of adequate means of transport and warehouses for the conservation of the products does not allow the access to markets for a large part of the crop, which has deteriorated in the meantime. Even more, in the absence of credit facilities from the State, little or nothing has been done to eradicate the scourge of usury and exploitation by intermediaries, even when governments opposing the Congress Party have placed, among its programmatic objectives, that of a greater attention to the needs of the rural world through the preparation of specific instruments for the relief of agricultural debt. Furthermore, the rural oligarchies, owners of highly profitable modern companies and arbiter of the internal market, often keep intact the ancient feudal power: Proof of this is that only in 1975 forced labor was abolished for the farmer unable to pay his debts (this form of servitude had been in force for centuries in the countryside and also obliged all members of the debtor’s family to perform).
The intervention of the government was limited to the realization of primary irrigation works, so much so that the irrigated surfaces extend for approx. 50 million ha, equal to about one third of the total cultivated area. Since the seventies, efforts have been made to spread the use of fertilizers and high-yield (hybrid) crop varieties, however held back by the insufficiency of the irrigation network, the scarce availability of investments and a deep-rooted resistance to innovation on the part farmers; some progress has been made, including through the inclusion of qualified personnel in rural society, but the potential offered by these factors has been adequately exploited only in restricted areas (especially in Punjab) and in large properties, spreading on average only in the most recent period; the “green revolution” has therefore generally accentuated social and territorial disparities. Nevertheless, apart from some even ruinous years, the production trend has registered constant increases, which however do not correspond to the dizzying increase in the population. The flagship product of Indian agriculture is rice, with highest concentrations in eastern India. Among the cereals, followed by wheat, widespread in drier western India, millet and sorghum, which also adapt to poorer and less irrigated soils; other productions are those of corn and barley. Among other food crops, potatoes and numerous other varieties of fruit, both tropical and temperate zone, are particularly important, including bananas, mangoes and citrus fruits. Of the horticultural products, chickpeas, beans, lentils, onions and tomatoes are grown in considerable quantities.
There are numerous industrial crops, among which a prominent role is played by oilseeds (peanuts, rapeseed, sunflower, sesame), which make significant contributions to exports and constitute the primary source for the production of fats and soy. Among the textile plants, in addition to cotton and linen, jute is of considerable importance, cultivated above all in West Bengal; follow hemp, the in addition to cotton and linen, jute is of considerable importance, grown mainly in West Bengal; follow hemp, the in addition to cotton and linen, jute is of considerable importance, grown mainly in West Bengal; follow hemp, the kenaf etc. India is the world’s second largest producer of tea, after China, more than half of which comes from Assam, while coffee is grown in various mountainous areas of southern Deccan. Two other important crops are those of sugar cane, widespread especially in the Ganges plain, which is only partially sent to the sugar mills, while the rest is used in the production of a particular drink, the gur, and tobacco (India is the third largest producer in the world). The production of spices (pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon) is also important in the world context. Wooded areas (equal to 22.8% of the national surface) represent a precious heritage but insufficient for the needs of the country, both for the production of wood and for the protection of the soil. Rich strips of tropical forests still exist on the slopes of the Western Ghats and in the adjacent Malabar coast, as well as on the Vindhya and Sātpura mountains; various precious woods (mahogany, teak, sandalwood etc.) are also intended for export. In West Bengal bamboo is widely used for a variety of uses, including papermaking.