Chapter : 5

What Are Land Resources ?

  • Different types of lands are suited to different uses. Human beings thus, use land as a resource for production as well as residence and recreation.
  • Competing uses of land for forestry, agriculture, pastures, human settlements, and industries exert pressure on the finite land resource influencing land-use patterns and sometimes causing degradation. Changes in land use and land cover, and land degradation, have adverse impacts on forest resources and biodiversity. Given that they are intertwined in various ways, there is a need for treatment of land, forests, pastures, and biodiversity as an integrated resource.
  • India supports approximately 16% of the worldโ€™s population and 20% of its livestock on 2.5% of its geographical area. This pressure on land has led to its deterioration โ€“ soil erosion, water logging, salinization, nutrient depletion, lowering of groundwater tables, and soil pollution โ€“ largely caused by human interventions.
  • The land-use categories as maintained in the Land Revenue Records can be categorized as:
  • a) Forests
  • b) Land put to Non-agricultural Uses
  • c) Barren and Wastelandsx
  • d) Area under Permanent Pastures and Grazing Lands
  • e) Area under Miscellaneous Tree Crops and Groves
  • f) Culturable Waste-Land
  • g) Current Fallow
  • h) Fallow other than Current Fallow
  • i) Net Area Sown
  • Land-use in a region, to a large extent, is influenced by the nature of economic activities carried out in that region. Land use depends on the size of the economy and the composition of the economy.
  • Land, according to its ownership can broadly be classified under two broad heads โ€“ private land and common property resources (CPRs).
  • Common property resources are owned by the state meant for the use of the community. CPRs provide fodder for the livestock and fuel for the households along with other minor forest products like fruits, nuts, fibre, medicinal plants, etc. CPRs also are important for women as most of the fodder and fuel collection is done by them in rural areas.

Types Of Farming

  • There are three distinct crop seasons in the northern and interior parts of country, namely kharif, rabi and zaid.
  • The kharif season largely coincides with Southwest Monsoon under which the cultivation of tropical crops such as rice, cotton, jute, jowar, bajra and tur is possible. The rabi season begins with the onset of winter in October-November and ends in March-April. Zaid is a short duration summer cropping season beginning after harvesting of rabi crops.
  • On the basis of main source of moisture for crops, the farming can be classified as irrigated and rainfed (barani). There is difference in the nature of irrigated farming as well based on objective of irrigation, i.e., protective or productive. The objective of protective irrigation is to protect the crops from adverse effects of soil moisture deficiency which often means that irrigation acts as a supplementary source of water over and above the rainfall.
  • Agriculture continues to be an important sector of Indian economy. The importance of agricultural sector in India can be gauged from the fact that about 57% of its land is devoted to crop cultivation, whereas, in the world, the corresponding share is only about 12 percent.

Indian Agricultural Economy

  • Indian agricultural economy was largely subsistence in nature before Independence. It had dismal performance in the first half of twentieth century. This period witnessed severe droughts and famines.
  • After Independence, the immediate goal of the Government was to increase foodgrains production by (i) switching over from cash crops to food crops; (ii) intensification of cropping over already cultivated land; and (iii) increasing cultivated area by bringing cultivable and fallow land under plough.
  • New seed varieties of wheat (Mexico) and rice (Philippines) known as high yielding varieties (HYVs) were available for cultivation by mid-1960s. India took advantage of this and introduced package technology comprising HYVs, along with chemical fertilizers in irrigated areas of Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat,
  • The Green Revolution was a period that began in the 1960s during which agriculture in India was converted into a modern industrial system by the adoption of technology, such as the use of high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, mechanised farm tools, irrigation facilities, pesticides and fertilizers.
  • There has been a significant increase in agricultural output and improvement in technology during the last fifty years. Production and yield of many crops such as rice and wheat has increased at an impressive rate.
  • The nature of problems faced by Indian agriculture varies according to agro-ecological and historical experiences of its different regions. Hence, most of the agricultural problems in the country are region specific. Some of the problems of the Indian agricultural system such as Dependence on Erratic Monsoon, Lack of Land Reforms, Constraints of Financial Resources and Indebtedness, Low productivity, Small Farm Size and Fragmentation of Landholdings, Lack of Commercialisation.