After independence in 1947, there has been progress in all fields of agricultural activities. More land has been brought under irrigation, use of fertilizers and pesticides has increased and high-yielding varieties have been introduced in many parts of India. The main features are as under:
1. Subsistence agriculture:
In general, the Indian farmer owns a small piece of land. He cultivates the land and grows crops with the help of family members. He consumes almost the entire farm produce, with little surplus to sell in the market.
2. Pressure of population:
Agriculture has to provide food for the rapidly increasing population and also employment to a large section of landless labourers. The increasing trend of urbanization is actually diverting the agricultural land to non-agricultural uses.
3. Importance of animals:
In India, practically all agricultural operations such as ploughing, irrigation, threshing and transporting the agricultural products are done by the animals. Complete mechanization of the Indian agricultural system is still a distant goal.
4. Dependent upon monsoons:
The Indian farmer depends mainly on the monsoons, which are uncertain, unreliable and irregular. Even after 58 years of independence, only about 35 per cent of the total cropped area is under perennial irrigation and the rest depends on the monsoons.
5. Small land holdings:
The national average size of the land holdings is only 1.7 hectares. It is uneconomical to cultivate small farms and thus is a great hindrance to the progress of agriculture. Most of the farmers in our country are not owners of the land they cultivate.
6. Variety of crops:
Due to highly suitable environmental conditions, the Indian farmers are able to grow a large variety of tropical and temperate crops. It includes food crops and commercial crops. The food crops score over all other crops for land under agriculture.
7. Predominance of food crops:
The production of food crops is the first priority of the farmers, as they have to provide enough food for the rapidly increasing population of our country. About two-thirds of the total land under agriculture is devoted to food crops in India.
8. Less importance to fodder crops:
India has the largest population of livestock in the world. Still the fodder crops are not given due consideration in the cropping pattern. Thus, we have very poor quality of domestic animals, when compared internationally.