What is Agro climatic zone?
An “Agro-climatic zone” is a land unit in terms of major climates, suitable for a certain range of crops and cultivars. The planning aims at scientific management of regional resources to meet the food, fiber, fodder and fuel wood without adversely affecting the status of natural resources and environment. Agro-climatic conditions mainly refer to soil types, rainfall, temperature and water availability which influence the type of vegetations. An agro-ecological zone is the land unit carved out of agro-climatic zone superimposed on landform which acts as modifier to climate and length of growing period.
Planning of Agro climatic zones of India
With the 329 million hectares of the geographical area the country presents a large number of complex agro-climatic situations.
Several attempts have been made to describe major agro-ecological regions in respect to soils, climate, physiographic and natural vegetation for macro-level planning on a more scientific basis. They are as follows.
- Agro-climatic regions by the erstwhile Planning Commission
- Agro-climatic zones under National Agricultural Research Project (NARP)
- Agro-ecological regions by the National Bureau of Soil Survey & Land Use Planning (NBSS & LUP)
Agro-climatic regions by the erstwhile Planning Commission:
The Planning Commission, as a result of the mid-term appraisal of the planning targets of the Seventh Plan.
Basis of Agro Climatic Zone Division:
The Planning Commission after examining the earlier studies on the regionalisation of the agricultural economy has recommended that agricultural planning be done on the basis of agroclimatic regions. For resource development, the country has been broadly divided into fifteen agricultural regions based on agro climatic features, particularly soil type, climate including temperature and rainfall and its variation and water resources availability as under:
- Western Himalayan division
- Eastern Himalayan division
- Lower Gangetic plain region
- Middle Gangetic plain region
- Upper Gangetic plain region
- Trans-Gangetic plain region
- Eastern plateau and hill region
- Central plateau and hill region
- Western plateau and hill region
- Southern plateau and hill region
- East coast plain and hill region
- West coast plain and hill region
- Gujarat plain and hill region
- Western plain and hill region
- Island region
These are further divided into more homogeneous 72 sub-zones.
Fourteen regions were in the main land and the remaining one in the islands of Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
The main objective was to integrate plans of the agro-climatic regions with the state and national plans to enable policy development based on techno-agro-climatic considerations. In the agro-climatic regional planning, further sub-regionalization was possible based on agro-ecological parameters.
Agro-climatic zones under National Agricultural Research Project (NARP):
National Agricultural Research Project (NARP) was launched by ICAR for initiating agricultural research in the agro-climatic zones of the country. The objective was to set up or upgrade a zonal research station in each agro-climatic zone for generating location specific, need based research targeted for specific agro-ecological situations. The focus was on analyzing agro-ecological conditions and cropping patterns and come out with a programme directly targeted to solve the major bottlenecks of agricultural growth in a zone based on natural resources, major crops, farming systems, production constraints and socio-economic conditions prevalent in that zone. Stress was on technology generation. In NARP, the country was divided into 127 agro-climatic zones.
Agro-ecological regions by the National Bureau of Soil Survey & Land Use Planning (NBSS & LUP):
The National Bureau of Soil Survey & Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP) came up with twenty agro-ecological zones based on the growing period as an integrated criteria of effective rainfall, soil groups, delineated boundaries adjusted to district boundaries with a minimal number of regions. Subsequently, these twenty agro-ecological zones were sub- divided into 60 sub-zones.
- Western Himalayas
- Western Plain, Kachchh, and part of Kathiwara Peninsula
- Deccan Plateau
- Northern Plain and Central Highlands including Aravallis
- Central Malwa Highlands, Gujarat Plains, and Kathiawar Peninsula
- Deccan Plateau, hot semi-arid ecoregion
- Deccan (Telengana) Plateau and Eastern Ghats
- Eastern Ghats, Tamil Nadu Plateau and Deccan (Karnataka)
- Northern Plain, hot sub-humid (dry) ecoregion
- Central Highlands (Malwas, Budelkhand, and Eastern Satpura)
- Eastern Plateau (Chattisgarh), hot sub-humid ecoregion
- Eastern (Chotanagpur) Plateau and Eastern Ghats
- Eastern Plain
- Western Himalayas
- Bengal and Assam plains
- Eastern Himalayas
- North Eastern Hills (Purvanchal)
- Eastern Coastal Plain
- Western Ghats and Coastal Plain
- Island of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep
The Importance of Agro-Climatic Zones in Indian Agriculture
Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy, contributing to the livelihood of millions of people. However, India’s diverse geographical and climatic conditions make it challenging to implement a one-size-fits-all approach to farming. This is where agro-climatic zones come into play. Agro-climatic zones are geographical areas with similar climatic and soil conditions that are crucial in determining the type of crops that can be cultivated in a particular region. In India, there are 15 agro-climatic zones that have been identified based on factors such as temperature, rainfall, soil type, and topography. These zones play a vital role in the country’s agriculture sector as they help farmers select the right crops and farming practices for their region, leading to higher yields and better-quality produce. In this article, we will explore the importance of agro-climatic zones in Indian agriculture and how they contribute to the overall growth and development of the sector.
History and Development of Agro-Climatic Zones in India
Agro-climatic zones were first introduced in India in the 1970s as a means of identifying areas with similar agro-climatic conditions. The initial aim was to develop suitable cropping patterns based on the availability of resources and climatic conditions. The first report on agro-climatic zones in India was prepared by the National Commission on Agriculture (NCA) in 1976. Since then, several other reports have been prepared by various organizations, including the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSSLUP). These reports have been instrumental in identifying and mapping the agro-climatic zones in India.
Over the years, the concept of agro-climatic zones has gained significance, and today, it is an essential tool for planning and implementing agricultural policies and programs in India. The 15 agro-climatic zones identified in the country cover a wide range of climatic and soil conditions, from the humid tropical climate of the Northeast to the arid desert regions of Rajasthan. The development of agro-climatic zones has helped in promoting region-specific farming practices, leading to better yields and improved quality of produce.
Understanding the Significance of Agro-Climatic Zones
Agro-climatic zones are crucial in determining the type of crops that can be cultivated in a particular region. They help in identifying the soil type, rainfall, and temperature patterns, which are essential factors in determining the crop’s suitability. For instance, crops like rice and sugarcane require high rainfall, while crops like wheat and mustard are better suited to regions with low rainfall. Similarly, regions that experience extreme temperatures are unsuitable for growing certain crops.
Agro-climatic zones also help in identifying the cropping patterns that are best suited to a particular region. For example, regions with high rainfall and fertile soil are suitable for growing paddy, while regions with low rainfall and sandy soil are better suited for cultivating pulses and oilseeds. By identifying the crops and cropping patterns that are best suited to a particular region, farmers can optimize their yields and maximize their profits.
The Impact of climate change on Agro-Climatic Zones
Climate change is an increasing concern for the agriculture sector, and its impact on agro-climatic zones cannot be ignored. Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns can alter the suitability of crops in a particular region. For instance, regions that were once suitable for growing paddy may become unsuitable due to changes in rainfall patterns. Similarly, regions that were once unsuitable for certain crops may become suitable due to changes in temperature and rainfall patterns.
Climate change can also lead to the emergence of new pests and diseases, which can have a significant impact on crop yields. Droughts and floods can also cause significant damage to crops, leading to lower yields and lower-quality produce. It is, therefore, essential to take climate change into account when planning and implementing agricultural policies and programs.
Types of Crops and their suitability in DifferentAgro-Climatic Zones
The suitability of crops varies depending on the agro-climatic zone. In India, there are several types of crops that are grown, including rice, wheat, sugarcane, pulses, oilseeds, and cotton, among others. Let us take a look at the suitability of some of these crops in different agro-climatic zones.
– Rice: Rice is primarily grown in the Eastern and Northeastern regions of India, which have high rainfall and fertile soil. The states of West Bengal, Assam, and Bihar are major rice-growing states.
– Wheat: Wheat is grown in regions with low rainfall and fertile soil. The states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh are major wheat-growing states.
– Sugarcane: Sugarcane requires high rainfall and fertile soil. The states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka are major sugarcane-growing states.
– Pulses: Pulses are generally grown in regions with low rainfall and sandy soil. The states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra are major pulse-growing states.
– Oilseeds: Oilseeds are generally grown in regions with low rainfall and sandy soil. The states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh are major oilseed-growing states.
– Cotton: Cotton is grown in regions with moderate rainfall and fertile soil. The states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh are major cotton-growing states.
By understanding the suitability of different crops in different agro-climatic zones, farmers can select the crops that are best suited to their region, leading to higher yields and better quality produce.
Crop Planning Based on Agro-Climatic Zones
Crop planning is an essential aspect of agriculture, and it is crucial to take into account the agro-climatic zone when planning crops. By selecting the crops that are best suited to a particular region, farmers can optimize their yields and maximize their profits. Crop planning based on agro-climatic zones also helps in minimizing the risk of crop failure due to unfavorable weather conditions or pest attacks.
The government has also initiated several programs to promote crop planning based on agro-climatic zones. For instance, the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) provides financial assistance to states for implementing programs that promote region-specific farming practices. Similarly, the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) aims to increase the production of rice, wheat, and pulses in specific regions of the country.
Government Initiatives for Agro-Climatic Zone-based crop planning
The government of India has initiated several programs to promote agro-climatic zone-based crop planning. These programs aim to promote region-specific farming practices, leading to higher yields and better-quality produce. Some of the major government initiatives in this regard are:
– Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY): The RKVY aims to provide financial assistance to states for implementing programs that promote region-specific farming practices.
– National Food Security Mission (NFSM): The NFSM aims to increase the production of rice, wheat, and pulses in specific regions of the country.
– Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): The PMFBY aims to provide insurance coverage and financial support to farmers in case of crop failure due to natural calamities, pests, or diseases.
– Soil Health Card Scheme: The Soil Health Card Scheme aims to provide farmers with information on the nutrient status of their soil, enabling them to select crops and cropping patterns that are best suited to their soil type.
These government initiatives have been instrumental in promoting agro-climatic zone-based crop planning and improving the overall growth and development of the agriculture sector in India.
Challenges and Limitations of Agro-Climatic Zones
While agro-climatic zones are an essential tool for promoting region-specific farming practices, there are several challenges and limitations that need to be addressed. Some of the major challenges and limitations of agro-climatic zones are:
– Lack of awareness: Many farmers are unaware of the concept of agro-climatic zones and the importance of selecting crops based on their region’s climatic and soil conditions.
– Lack of resources: Many farmers lack the resources, such as technology and irrigation facilities, required to implement region-specific farming practices.
– Climate change: Climate change is a significant challenge for agro-climatic zones, as changes in temperature and rainfall patterns can alter the suitability of crops in a particular region.
– Limited research: There is a need for more research on the impact of agro-climatic zones on crop yields and quality.
Addressing these challenges and limitations is crucial for promoting region-specific farming practices and improving the overall growth and development of the agriculture sector in India.
Future Prospects of Agro-Climatic Zones
Agro-climatic zones are an essential tool for promoting region-specific farming practices, and their significance is only expected to grow in the future. With the increasing impact of climate change on the agriculture sector, the need for region-specific farming practices is more critical than ever. The government’s initiatives to promote agro-climatic zone-based crop planning are also expected to continue, leading to better yields and higher-quality produce.
In conclusion, agro-climatic zones are an essential aspect of Indian agriculture, and their significance cannot be ignored. By understanding the suitability of different crops in different agro-climatic zones, farmers can select the crops that are best suited to their region, leading to higher yields and better quality produce. The government’s initiatives to promote agro-climatic zone-based crop planning are also expected to contribute significantly to the growth and development of the agriculture sector in India.
Source of Article: Ministry of Jal Shakti, Govt. of India