Agriculture in West Bengal

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Agriculture in West Bengal

This is the seventh topic under the West Bengal Geography Notes for WBCS Module. The links to the previous chapters are listed below:

  1. Introduction to West Bengal Geography
  2. Physiographic divisions of West Bengal
  3. Rivers of West Bengal
  4. Soil and Climate of West Bengal
  5. Mineral Resources of West Bengal
  6. National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in West Bengal

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Agriculture in West Bengal

  • The tropic of Cancer passes through the middle of the state covering the district in the East, Nadia, and Burdwan and in the West Bankura and Purulia.
  • The total cultivable area of this state is about 56 lakh hectares which is 63% of its geographical area and having 62% irrigation area of the net cropped area.
  • The agriculture economy is greatly dependent on monsoon and flood, land erosion, drought, and other natural calamities often affect production in agriculture.
  • At present West Bengal ranks first in the production of Rice, Jute, and Vegetables.
  • It stands second in potato production (after Uttar Pradesh).
  • The Production of different crops under food grains in the state has recorded significant growth, which is recognized by GOI through awarding “KRISHI KARMAN”3 times in a row during 2011-12, 2012-13 & 2013-14.
  • West Bengal is predominantly an agrarian State.
  • There are 71.23 lakh farm families of whom 96% are small and marginal farmers. The average size of landholding is only 0.77 ha.
  • It is also the leading producer of jute, pineapple, litchi, mango, and loose flowers.
  • Cultivation of pulses, oilseeds, and maize is also picking up fast.
  • The net cropped area is 52.05 lakh ha which comprises 68% of the geographical area and 92% of arable land.
  • The cropping intensity is 184%.

Different type of Crops of Agriculture in West Bengal

  • The principal food crop cultivated in West Bengal agriculture is rice.
  • Other food crops of West Bengal include maize, pulses, oilseeds, wheat, barley, potatoes, and vegetables.
  • The most vital cash crop of West Bengal is Tea and it is also exported every year.
    • Darjeeling tea is most well-known all over India.
  • West Bengal agriculture supplies about 66 percent of the jute requirements of India.
    • The soil and heavy rainfall witnessed by India are absolutely perfect for jute cultivation.
  • The two other crops that are cultivated highly in the agricultural sector in West Bengal are tobacco and sugarcane.
  • West Bengal is also the second-largest fish producing state. (First- Andhra Pradesh).

Rice

  • Cultivation of rice requires a hot and moist climate.
  • It is a Kharif crop and is sown in March-April and harvested in Autumn.
  • Sufficient water must cover the fields.
  • Temperature: Rice requires hot and humid conditions. The temperature should be fairly high i.e. 24°C mean monthly temperature with an average temperature of 22°C to 32°C.
  • Rainfall: Rainfall ranging between 150-300 cm is suitable for its growth in areas of Punjab, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh where rainfall is less than 100 cm, rice is cultivated with the help of irrigation.
  • Soil: Rice is grown in varied soil conditions but deep clayey and loamy soil provides the ideal conditions. Rice is primarily grown in plain areas.
  • Burdwan is the highest rice producing district of West Bengal.

Jute

  • Jute crop requires a humid climate with temperatures fluctuating between 24 degrees Celsius and 38 degrees Celsius. The minimum rainfall required for jute cultivation is 1000 mm.
  • The new grey alluvial soil of good depth receiving silt from annual floods is most suitable for jute growth. However, jute is grown widely in sandy looms and clay loams.
  • Jute is generally sown from March to May depending on the nature of the land and atmospheric condition.
  • The first jute mill was established at Rishra (Bengal – now in West Bengal), on the river Hooghly near Calcutta in the year 1855, by Mr. George Aclend.
  • George Ackland brought jute spinning machinery from Dundee (U.K). In 1959, the first power-driven weaving factory was set up.
  • India is the world’s largest producer of raw jute and jute goods.
  • West Bengal is the largest producer of jute in India.
  • West Bengal alone accounts for over 50 percent of raw jute production.
  • Jute is grown in major parts of the lower Ganges plains, especially in the districts of Midnapur, Bardhman, 24 Paraganas, Malda, Murshidabad, etc.

Wheat

  • It is a rabi crop and its plant requires a cool and somewhat moist climate in the beginning and warm and dry weather at the harvest time.
  • The average rainfall should be between 50 to 70 cm and that too at intervals.
  • It is sown in August and harvested in March, April.
  • Nadia and Murshidabad are the highest Wheat producing district of West Bengal.
  • Uttar Pradesh is the largest wheat producing state in India

Pulses

  • It includes a number of crops that are mostly leguminous and provide invaluable proteins to the vegetarian population of India.
  • As they have fewer sources of proteins in comparison to those who consume meat and fish.
  • They also serve as excellent forage and grain concentrate in the cattle feed.
  • Apart from that these leguminous crops have the capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil and are normally rotated with other crops to maintain and restore soil fertility.
  • A large variety of pulses are found in India.
  • These are gram, tur or arhar (Pigeon Pea or Red Gram), urd (black gram), mung (green gram), Masur (lentil), kulthi (horse gram), matar (peas), etc. But among these above-mentioned varieties only gram and tur or arhar are more important pulses.
  • Gram:
    • It is the most important of all the pulses.
    • It accounts for about 37% of the production and about 30% of the total area of pulses in India.
    • It is a rabi crop that is sown between September and November and is harvested between February and April.
    • It is either cultivated as a single crop or mixed with wheat, barley, linseed, or mustard.
    • Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:
      Temperature: It is grown in a wide range of climatic conditions. Mild cool and comparatively dry climate with 20°C-25°C temperature.
      Rainfall: 40-45 cm rainfall is favorable for gram cultivation.
      Soil: It grows well on loamy soils.
  • Nadia is one of the highest pulse producing state of West Bengal.

Tobacco

  • It requires a warm and moist climate and a rich soil containing lime.
  • The largest tobacco producing district of WB is Coochbehar.

Oilseed

  • Rape Seed, Mustard, linseed, sesamum, toria, cottonseed are the chief varieties of oil-seeds.
  • They require a hot and moist climate.
  • Nadia, Bankura, and North 24 Parganas are major oil-seeds producing district.

Matir Katha

The aim of Matir Katha is to empower the farmers with the knowledge of government recommended package of practices, latest innovations and advisories, 24/7 crop protection solutions on the field so that farmer can produce more, sell the produce at the right price, and earn more.

Reservation of Cold Storage Space for Potato

Each farmer-hirer would be allowed to store up to the limit of 25 quintals only on his/ her account. The reserved space shall be allotted to the farmer-hirers on a first-come first-served basis.

Krishak Bandhu (Assured Income and Death Benefit) Scheme

In order to give financial support to the farmers including Bhagchasi (sharecropper) for agriculture purposes and also to provide social security to the family of the farmer and Bhagchasi in the event of his death due to any cause including natural death, the State Government has decided to introduce Krishak Bandhu Scheme with two components:-

  • Krishak Bandhu (Assured Income) Scheme under which every farmer including recorded Bhagchasi (Share Cropper) will be eligible to get financial support:
  1. 5000/- (Rupees Five thousand) only for up to 1 (one) acre of land per year. The financial support will be paid in two installments one for Kharif season and 2nd time for Rabi crops.
  2. Pro-rata basis for land less than 1 (one) acre of land; subject to a minimum of Rs. 1000/- (Rupees One thousand) only;
  • the Krishak Bandhu (Death Benefit) Scheme under which, in the event of any type of death including natural death of a farmer/ Bhagchasi (sharecropper) in the age group of 18-60 years, the nominee/family member of the deceased will get a one-time grant of Rs. 2,00,000/- (Rupees Two Lakh) only.

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